Every time Sequoyah mounted a charge Friday night, the Winder-Barrow girls basketball team had an emphatic response and no answer was bigger than the final 25 seconds of the third quarter.
After the Lady Chiefs cut a 16-point lead down to six, the Lady Bulldoggs reeled off six straight of their own to close out the quarter — the exclamation point a 3-pointer from Bayley Randall at the buzzer that boosted the lead back up to 12 and helped fuel a 59-51 victory in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA playoffs.
Winder-Barrow (23-5), the champion of Region 8, will host Region 4 No. 3 seed Jonesboro on Wednesday in the Sweet 16. A win in that game would propel the Lady Bulldoggs into the Elite Eight, where they would host either Mays or Greenbrier.
“We’re just telling the girls to do your job and keep making plays,” Winder-Barrow coach Brandon Thomas said following the win. “Anybody can make plays and we had a lot of them tonight. It’s a great win and we’re thankful for the community coming out.”
Friday night’s win came in front of a large, enthusiastic home crowd as the Lady Doggs hosted their first state playoff game in program history.
It was a game of big runs that saw Sequoyah (19-10) jump out to a 9-3 lead early on the strength of three straight 3-pointers by Colby Carden.
But the Lady Doggs clamped down on defense, shutting the Lady Chiefs out for nearly the next 10 minutes while they proceeded to go on a 16-0 run.
Lattrice Perkins, who led the way with 19 points, stole the ball and sprinted down the court untouched for a layup that put Winder-Barrow up for good, 10-9. After Lexi Maddox, who finished with 10, knocked down a pair of free throws, Perkins drilled a three to boost the lead up to six.
After taking a 31-20 lead into the locker room, Winder-Barrow quickly stretched the cushion to 16 points before the Lady Chiefs began to chip away. They got as close six points at 40-34 with 1:16 to play in the quarter, but then the momentum shifted drastically.
Sophomore point guard Chellia Watson stole the ball at half court, drove the lane and flung up a shot while being pushed from behind. The ball bounced on the rim once and went down through the net, sending the Winder-Barrow bench and most of the gymnasium into a frenzy.
Watson, who finished with 15 points, completed the three-point play with a free throw to make it 43-34 with 23.1 seconds left in the quarter, and Thomas went to his bench and summoned Randall into the game.
After a missed shot by the Lady Chiefs, Maddox collected the rebound and heaved it down court to an open Randall whose 3-pointer found nothing but net as the horn sounded to make it 46-34.
The junior sharpshooter didn’t make it back to the bench before being mobbed by her teammates.
“How big was that shot,” Thomas said with a grin on his face. “We had a quarter where things really weren’t going our way, where they had a run going and she delivers at the buzzer and it gives us all of the momentum back.”
Winder-Barrow would eventually go back up by as many as 13 when Shonteria Harris’ rebound and putback off the glass made it 52-39 with 4:14 to play.
Sequoyah got it back to 54-47 with just over a minute remaining, but back-to-back baskets by Antoria Johnson and Jakayla Sullivan sealed the deal for the Lady Doggs, who will continue their quest for a state championship next week.
One down, four to go.
“Everyone contributed tonight. It was huge,” Thomas said. “When their turn came to step up, they made the plays and that’s what we’ve got to have with every game from here on out.”
Winder-Barrow 59, Sequoyah 51
S 9 11 14 17 — 51
W 15 16 15 13 — 59
Sequoyah: Colby Carden 12, Peyton Satterfield 12, Alyssa Cagle 12, Sydney Rosant 8, AnnaLynnee Bennett 7
Winder-Barrow: Latrice Perkins 19, Chellia Watson 15, Lexi Maddox 10, Jakayla Sullivan 6, Shonteria Harris 4, Bayley Randall 3, Antoria Johnson 2
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