June 22, 2018

Lady Braves take down Knights in hoops opener

Senior Kimberly Harris (#20) goes up on defense during Tuesday night's win over Upson-Lee

Senior Kimberly Harris (#20) goes up on defense during Tuesday night’s win over Upson-Lee

(Franklin, GA) — The Lady Braves varsity basketball team knocked off the visiting Lady Knights of Class AAAA Upson-Lee by a final score of 59-47.

Coach Helen Akins’s squad is looking for another successful season to follow up on last year’s effort that saw the Lady Braves claim the Region 5-AA crown and earn a spot in the Class AA state quarterfinals with an overall record of 23-6.

Despite the loss of three talented players to graduation last spring, Akins does have a lot of returning experience she will hope to utilize as the team aims for another region crown and state playoff appearance.

Leading the way for the Lady Braves in Tuesday night’s win was senior Kimberly Harris who led all scorers with 20 points while going 4-for-4 from the foul line.

Three other Lady Braves scoring in double-digits were junior Emily Iddins (10), senior Hannah Sanders (11), and sophomore Haley Bennett (12).

Iddins was also 6-for-6 from the line in a game where the Lady Braves as a team connected on 21 of 27 foul shots.

“It’s always good to get a win in your home opener and get started off on a good note,” said Coach Akins after the game. “We want to make it back to the state playoffs and win another region title this year but of course we have a lot of work to do to get there — but this one tonight was a good win and can give us something to build on.”

Akins has been especially pleased with the performance of one of her younger players the last couple of weeks.

“I tell you what sophomore Haley Bennett has come out and played in our scrimmage game last week and again tonight. When she steps on the court she means business and she has really put in some good minutes for us so far and I’m excited about that,” said Akins.

The Lady Braves will have some new blood to contend with in Region 5-AA this year following off-season realignment.

The girls will now contend with Lamar County, Temple, Spencer, Jordan, and Callaway for the region trophy following the exodus of rivals Bremen, Bowdon, and Manchester to other classifications.

In boys action, new head coach Keith Simmons took the floor for the first time against a very imposing opponent in the Knights. After trailing 28-2 early in the game, the Braves played much better over the final three quarters and were defeated 58-44.

Leading the way in scoring for the Braves was junior Darius Matthews who had 15 points including four shots from beyond the arc. Senior Jordarius Foster also finished in double digits with 10 while Christian Murray and Dekari Brewer each had seven points.

“Drawing a ranked opponent coming out of the gate is good for the marathon — this is not a sprint,” said Simmons after the game.

“We have to just learn to come out with more intensity and just do the stuff we do at practice. Just like at the Lagrange scrimmage the other night we let one bad quarter get to us. Right now we are learning how to fight and not let rankings and what players are supposed to be stop us from doing what we are supposed to do.”

Sophomore Tay Watson battles with two Knights during Tuesday night's game

Sophomore Tay Watson battles with two Knights during Tuesday night’s game

Although they didn’t get the win in his first game, Simmons sees some positives as the team move forward to game to tomorrow night versus Haralson County.

“We looked a lot better after that first quarter tonight. We settled down and didn’t beat ourselves,” Simmons said.

“We are working with a very short bench right now because of injuries and we have some guys playing out of position, but all in all I thought we put together a solid second half tonight.”

Sophomore forward Tay Watson took an elbow to the eye late in the game which required several stitches but he is expected to be ok.

The Braves are already without both Emory Jones and Alijah Huzzie who are still recuperating from football injuries but are expected back in a few weeks.

The Braves and Lady Braves will host Haralson County at HHS tomorrow night with the girls game tipping at 6 PM and the boys match-up immediately following.

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