September 16, 2021

Region runner-up Lady Braves hosting Banks County Tuesday

The 2020-2021 Region 5-AA Runner-up Lady Braves (Front L-R): Natalie Schneider, Karleigh Smith, Briana Labaff, and J’Money Lewis (Back L-R): Callie Senn, Carmaya Swint, Jasmine Owens, Shyann Kelley, Camille Gaskins, Mykhia Echols, Zekylah Boyd, Hermonie Garza, Sophia Long, and Jayden Bokyin

(Franklin, GA) — The Lady Braves and the Callaway Lady Cavaliers put on quite a show for a packed house of girl’s basketball fans at Heard High Friday night, but when all was said and done it was the visiting Lady Cavs that walked away with the Region 5-AA Championship by a final score of 56-50.

The contest was hard-fought throughout with the largest lead for either team being just seven points.

Callaway took a 20-16 lead at the end of the first quarter on a 3-point buzzer beater from beyond half court by Niakoe Burks.

The Lady Braves bounced back in the second quarter to take a 32-31 lead at the half with the Heard High gym rocking. The sellout crowd was in a frenzy on both sides for the entirety of the very exciting game.

The Cavs would build a three point lead to end the third quarter and the Lady Braves would not be able to get closer than three as the Cavs pulled away late for the six point win.

Jayden Boykin and senior Hermonie Garza were selected to the all-tournament team for the Lady Braves.

Boykin’s performance included a game-high 23 points scored with 11 rebounds and four steals. The freshman also went a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line.

Garza finished the game with nine points and seven rebounds while senior Sophia Long also played well scoring eight with six boards.

Zekylah Boyd was again tremendous on the defensive end of the floor with five steals and four rebounds. The junior also scored four and led the squad in assists with four.

Sophomore Jasmine Owens hauled in nine rebounds including an impressive seven on the offensive end against a much larger Lady Cav lineup.

Mykhia Echols had two points, a block, and a steal to lead the Lady Braves off the bench.

Head coach Helen Akins was pleased with the unbridled effort from her team with her five five starters playing almost every minute of the game. She says Callaway’s size was difficult to overcome in the third meeting of the season between the two rival teams.

Freshman Jayden Boykin led all scorers with 23 points (Photo: Tammy Bailey)

“Callaway has just a big, tough team — people underestimate their size,” said Akins after the game.

“Our girls battled, you couldn’t ask for more effort and the crowd was unbelievable. This is Heard County and our people show up I’m super proud of how they came and cheered on our girls. I love these kids — they played their guts out and that is really all you can ask of them.”

Akins say Boykin’s play in the raucous atmosphere was one of the best she’s seen.

“Jayden Boykin played the best game for a freshman that I have ever coached. She was on a mission tonight,” Akins said.

“Everybody else played well too — we were just missing here and missing there and some things were just out of our control. We just played so hard. Sometimes that size advantage just gets you — you do what you can do, but you can’t do anything about height.”

The Lady Braves finish as the 2021 Region 5-AA runner-ups and will host Banks County in the first round of the GHSA Class AA Playoffs Tuesday at 6:00 PM at Heard High.

“You just have to pick yourself up. It’s life and things don’t go your way sometimes, but our group will battle back they are a good group and they always support each other,” says Akins.

“Banks County is a good team. They were ranked in the top 10 at one time. That’s a good Region 8-AA and it will be a good test for us in round one.”

If the No. 2 seeded Lady Braves can pick up the first round win versus Banks Tuesday, they would advance to a round two matchup this Friday night either at Region 7-AA No. 1 seed Fannin County or at home versus Region 6-AA No. 4 Lovett.

Tickets for Tuesday night’s game are $7 each and will be available at the gate. Click here to see the full Class AA State Playoff bracket.

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