December 6, 2021

Lady Braves upend Tigers to open region tourney

(Bremen, GA) — The Lady Braves advanced to the Region 5-AA semifinals with a 41-34 win over the Temple Tigers Tuesday afternoon at Bremen High School.

The game was hard-fought and a close battle throughout as the Lady Braves closed out the game on an 8-1 run after it was tied at 33-33 with just 1:30 to play.

With the big win, the team avoided being shut out of the state playoffs for the first time in coach Helen Akins’ five year tenure and will next battle the region’s top-seeded squad, Lamar County, in the region semis in Barnesville Thursday.

Senior Haley Bennett had one of her best performances of the season netting 18 points and 10 steals for a double-double. Bennett had four 3-point baskets and was 4-for-4 from the free throw line.

The Lady Braves trailed 8-2 to open the game before battling back to take a one point lead at the end of the first and led 20-18 at the half. The Braves extended the lead to 28-21 late in the third before the Tigers charged back to even it up late.

Morgan Kay had a nice effort as well with two 3-point baskets and nine total points while Tori Caldwell and Sophia Long each added six points.

Senior Sydney Gay (#2) had 9 rebounds and 3 steals in Tuesday’s big win over Temple

Another key force on the glass was senior forward Sydney Gay who pulled down nine rebounds and had three steals.

One of the crucial defensive plays came late in the game on a steal by Sophia Long as the Tigers brought the ball up the court.

Senior Tori Chivers led Temple with 18 points.

Coach Helen Akins was extremely pleased with the hustle and effort by her squad and the big performances from her seniors in the win or go home contest.

“Our kids are just amazing they hustle so hard on offense and they hustle so hard on defense you just could not ask anymore from them,” said Akins after the game. “They did everything we worked on and our seniors Sydney Gay and Haley Bennett really controlled the boards which was just critical for us.”

Akins knows the challenge will be tough in the region semis as her team takes another stab at the top-seeded Lady Trojans (22-2, 12-0) who will have the home court advantage and will be well-rested following a first round bye.

Despite seeming like a huge mismatch on paper, the Lady Braves (11-12, 5-8) played well in both regular season games versus the Trojans falling by just six at home and 10 on the road.

“We know we will have to shock the world to beat Lamar but you just can’t tell this group of girls that they can’t beat someone,” said Akins.

The Lady Braves and Lamar County will tip off at 7:00 PM tomorrow night in Barnesville. The tourney will close out with the Championship and third place games Saturday night also in Barnesville.

The Lady Braves have now qualified for the GHSA Class AA State Tournament but a win over the Trojans would score the team a coveted first round home game versus Region 8-AA rather than a difficult road trip to northeast Georgia. The first round of the state playoffs will be February 15-16.

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