May 15, 2021

Lady Braves mount epic first round comeback to save season

The Lady Braves celebrate on of the largest come-from-behind playoff wins in school history Tuesday night at HCHS. The Lady Braves battle back from an 18-point deficit to defeat Banks County in round one of the GHSA Class AA State Playoffs (Photo: Juliann Carpenter)

(Franklin, GA) — The Lady Braves faced some very tall odds after falling 18 points behind the Banks County Lady Leopards Tuesday night, but an impressive show of grit and determination by the home town girls led to a massive comeback and a 49-42 win in the opening round of the GHSA Class AA State Playoffs.

The Lady Leopards came out of the gate strong to take a 15-4 lead after the first quarter and quickly extended that lead to 27-9 midway through the second quarter before a furious rally from the Lady Braves.

Coach Helen Akins’ squad were relentless defensively late in the second as they went on an 11-0 run to close out the half and cut the 18 point lead to just seven at the break.

Senior Hermonie Garza who missed several minutes in the early going after picking up two fouls scored all eight of her points in that second quarter. Garza also had eight rebounds and two steals in the game.

After scoring just three points in the first half, freshman Jayden Boykin quickly got back on track scoring eight in the third quarter as the Lady Braves further cut the Leopard lead to just 39-36 heading into the fourth.

With both teams battling hard in front of a large and fervent Brave Nation crowd, the game would get chippy as the third came to a close with double technical fouls called on both teams.

Mykhia Echols was a big factor off the bench in the game especially in the second half where she scored six of her eight points to go along with two blocked shots on the defensive end of the floor.

As the two squads continue to battle one another, Boykin finally put the Lady Braves on top for the first time 44-42 with just 3:20 to play in the game.

The Lady Braves would shut out the Leopards for the rest of the contest and a big two and one from Boykin would close it out with the Lady Braves walking away with a 49-42 win.

Timely defense was such a big key to the first round win as the Lady Braves allowed zero points in the last four minutes of both the second and the fourth quarters.

Boykin finished the game with a game high 18 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals.

Jasmine Owens led the way in rebounding with nine while Zekylah Boyd notched four steals and four points to go along with her six rebounds.

Senior Sophia Long had seven points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

“I came in here knowing Banks County had a really good team, but we’re the type of team that will pick each other up and can always make a come back,” said Long after the big win that kept her Lady Brave career alive for at least one more game.

Sophomore Kamryn Grier led the way for the Banks County Lady Leopards with 16 points.

Coach Helen Akins was extremely proud of her squad that went on a 40-15 run to come back from the early 18 point deficit — one of the largest comebacks in Heard High playoff history.

“I just don’t even know what to say about these kids. I’m telling you they are just such a special group. We might miss a bunch of lay-ups and we might miss some free throws but we don’t freaking lay down for nobody,” said the elated coach after the big win.

“I am so proud of Mykhia Echols — she came in and did a great job for us tonight. Hermonie Garza got into foul trouble, but she had to play and she went back in the game and didn’t foul again and made some big plays for us,” Akins said.

“Sophia battling and being able to stay in the game was huge. Jayden with the big and one at the end. I’m just so proud of all of them. They deserve it so much because they are such great kids and they work so freaking hard. I’m also thankful for these Brave Nation fans. Heard County always shows up big — this is the greatest sports atmosphere school in the state period!”

The Lady Braves (20-5) will next face a long Sweet 16 road trip as they travel to Fannin County this Friday night at 6:00 PM.

Fannin County, the top seed from Region 7-AA earned their way to round two with a 65-47 home win over Lovett Tuesday night. The Rebels (20-4) are ranked No. 5 in the state.

The winner of Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup will earn a trip to the Elite 8 to meet either No. 2 ranked Early County from Region 1-AA or unranked Swainsboro from Region 2-AA.

Swainsboro, a No. 3 seed knocked off the No. 2 seeded team from Region 3-AA Lamar County 51-48 Tuesday.

Other Class AA teams advancing to the Sweet 16 Tuesday night included Laney, Washington County, Chattooga, South Atlanta, Elbert County, Josey, East Laurens, Woodville-Tompkins, and Rabun County.

Temple and Haralson County from Region 5-AA were both eliminated in round one. A few more first round games are being played today including Callaway who is hosting Union County.

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