January 17, 2019

Late free throws by ‘Madi Ice’ lift Lady Braves over Tigers

(Franklin) — The Lady Braves survived a serious scare from the visiting Washington-Wilkes Lady Tigers Tuesday night in the first round of the state playoffs thanks to senior Madison Whitehead breaking a 25-25 tie by sinking a couple of pressure packed free throws with just 3.7 seconds to play in the game.

The 27-25 win was not exactly what Coach Helen Akins and her squad had envisioned from the match-up with the No. 4 seed from Region 8-AA, but they got the job done when it counted to fend off the scrappy underdogs from Washington, GA.

Lady Tiger senior Jada Brittian (#11) and Lady Brave senior Jordan Watson (#5) during Tuesday night's game

Lady Tiger senior Jada Brittian (#11) and Lady Brave senior Jordan Watson (#5) during Tuesday night’s game

Whitehead led the Lady Braves in scoring with 12, and all of her scoring came on foul shots. She was an excellent 12 for 15 from the line.

Junior Kimberly Harris had another nice night scoring eight, Jordan Watson had three, and Alyssa Cosper rounded out the points with two.

The Lady Braves led 14-11 at the half in the very defensive low-scoring affair. Whitehead’s game winning free throws came after the visitors had tied the game at 25-25 with under 20 seconds to play.

Destiny Reid led the Tigers with 12 including two from 3-point range.

A desperation 3-point attempt from Reid that would have won the game just rimmed out at the buzzer.

The hard-fought win was another game symbolizing the Lady Braves ability to not give up in any game. According to Coach Akins, her squad only has one goal at this point in the season and that goal is survival.

“We watched the ’30 for 30′ Survive and Advance from ESPN after school today and that’s what we talked about,” said Akins after the close win.

“I was afraid we were probably going to be a bit down today after such an emotional overtime game on Saturday but you just have to give it to these girls — they just fight and fight and find a way to win. There is just something about these kids and the chemistry they have with each other. It is just a fun group to coach.”

Defense was once again a huge key for the Lady Braves who allowed under 30 points for the 11th time this season. The 27 points was the lowest output by the Lady Braves’ offense this season but was just enough to land a spot in the Sweet 16.

“We played good defense tonight,” Akins added. “Since we didn’t have a good night offensively it was again our rebounding and our defense that got us through tonight.”

The Lady Braves now advance to the Sweet 16 where they will host the Bleckley County Royals, the No. 3 seed from Region 4-AA. Bleckley also played strong defensively Tuesday night defeating Thomasville 33-23.

The Royals could be better than their seeding as they entered the Region 4-AA tourney as the top seed last week before being upset by Monticello, a team they had beaten two times during the regular season. The Royals are ranked No. 10 in the state by the AJC. The game will tip Friday at 6:00 PM at Heard High School.

Coach Akins and the Lady Braves are hoping for a huge showing of support in their last home game of the season as they try to earn a trip to the state quarterfinals at Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA next week.

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