South Georgia basketball teams had a chance to punch their tickets to the state Final Four Friday night. But as the stakes raise, so does the competition. A few area teams found that out the hard way.
AMERICUS-SUMTER 63, MARIST 56 (GIRLS)
The Lady Panthers were not going to be stopped short of their goal this year. At least not tonight.
Americus-Sumter finished off Marist in the state quarterfinals Friday night in Fort Valley.
Florida State signee A'tyanna Gaulden dominated the second half to lead the Panthers to the Final Four.
"It makes everything a lot easier when you have a player of her caliber playing for you," says Americus-Sumter head coach Sherri Harris. "But we had a couple of girls that stepped up defensively."
The Lady Panthers will meet Buford in the Final Four Saturday night at 6:30 in Fort Valley.
GRADY 54, WESTOVER 52 (BOYS)
It appeared Westover's Cinderella run may last at least one more game.
Then, in abrupt and heartbreaking fashion, midnight struck on the Patriots.
Grady's Avi Toomer hit a reverse layup as time expired to give the Knights a 54-52 win in Fort Valley.
"We knew it was going to go to [him]. And I wanted to run to try to trap them and get the ball out of his hands and let somebody else go," Westover head coach Dallis Smith says. "But he made a move to the baseline and we didnt cut him off and he made a reverse layup."
The Patriots finish the season at 19-12.
PACE ACADEMY 78, THOMASVILLE 48 (BOYS)
Thomasville's special season came to an end Friday night.
Pace Academy's size proved too much for the Bulldogs in Milledgeville.
Wendell Carter, Jr. rocked the rim a few times for the Knights in the 78-48 win.
Thomasville finishes the season at 28-2.
TERRELL CO. 42, CALHOUN CO. 29 (GIRLS)
The Lady Greenwave ratcheted up the defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, and pulled away from south Georgia rival Calhoun County in the state quarterfinals Friday in Valdosta.
Terrell Co. allowed just one point in the fourth quarter, improving to 23-3 on the season.
"We had a little extra motivation at halftime. I tried to express that it all starts with defense. I think our defense did pick up their intensity in the second half, and we were able to carry that momentum offensively," says Terrell Co. head coach Tammye Jenkins.
The Lady Wave battle Greenville in Saturday night's semifinal at Valdosta St. Tip off time is 3:00 p.m.
TURNER CO. 69, CALHOUN CO. 47 (BOYS)
The state defending champs just couldn't keep up with Turner County Friday.
The Rebels went on an extended scoring run late in the fourth that further separated themselves from the Cougars.
Turner County will meet Hancock Central Saturday night in Valdosta. Head coach Duane Office says there's no time for celebrations just yet.
"We have to stay focused. They get 15-20 minutes to celebrate, but then it's time to worry about Hancock Central," says Office. "We've been preparing all night. You'll get a couple hours of sleep, then get ready to play this game."
Tipoff between Turner Co. and Hancock Central is set for 8:15 at Valdosta St.
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