May 22, 2019

Lady Braves fall to juggernaut Wildcats

(Tiger, GA) — The 2018-2019 basketball season came to an end for Coach Helen Akins and the Lady Braves after they fell to one of the state’s top ranked teams Friday night in the North Georgia mountains.

The No. 2 ranked Rabun County Wildcats (27-1) had not lost a game since early December and it was easy to see why as they overwhelmed the Lady Braves from the start before going on to win 83-43.

Just as they had all season, however, the Heard County girls never gave up and battled ‘tooth and nail’ throughout against a very deep and athletic Wildcat squad that are strong contenders to win the state championship. It was the 25th straight win for the Wildcats.

Hermonie Garza had a career-high 17 in Friday night’s state playoff loss (Photo: Jeff Napier)

Despite the lopsided score, there were some bright spots in the game for an under-sized young Lady Brave squad.

Sophomore Hermonie Garza continued her breakout season and led the scoring for the Lady Braves with a career-high 17 points including 13 in the second quarter.

Fellow sophomore Sophia Long had a nice effort as well with 10 of her 12 points coming in the second half while junior Tori Caldwell scored eight and senior Haley Bennett had six in her final game as a Lady Brave.

Senior Sydney Gay also played some valuable minutes and she and Bennett will be missed following graduation as the team moves forward next season.

“There were a lot of other teams sitting home tonight but we got to play,” said Coach Akins after the game.

“We went into the region tourney as a No. 5 seed and came out with a playoff spot and I’m just super proud of these girls and we have a lot to work on before next year, but overall I am pleased with all of the hard work they have put in this season. We are really going to miss Haley and Sydney.”

It was the fifth straight season the Lady Braves have made the state playoffs under Coach Akins.

The 11-13 overall record was a bit deceiving as the Lady Braves lost several games by small margins despite being over-matched on paper. Eight of the losses came by single digits.

Senior Haley Bennett and junior Tori Caldwell were selected second team all region while sophomore Sophia Long received an honorable mention. Bennett was also selected to the all-tournament team at the region tourney.

In other Region 5-AA versus Region 8-AA state tourney action, Lamar County advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 63-62 win over Monticello, Callaway dropped a 47-45 heart-breaker at Elbert County, and Bremen fell to Banks County 52-29. Lamar County will face Model in the second round this week.

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