The Winder-Barrow girls basketball team came into Tuesday night’s GHSA Class AAAAAA quarterfinal matchup against Mays hoping to duplicate the result of last year's Class AAAAA semifinals, when Winder-Barrow defeated the Lady Raiders.
However, The Lady Raiders went on a 13-4 run late in the third quarter to take control of the game and earned a hard-fought 65-51 victory over Winder-Barrow.
Mays advances to take on either Lovejoy or Chatahoochee on Saturday in the semifinals at Fort Valley State University.
"I think we played a quality opponent,” Winder-Barrow coach Brandon Thomas said after the loss. "Mays’ record isn't exactly gaudy, but they traveled out west and played some quality teams over the holidays. They have an absolute star of a player in Kamiyah Street. She's their region player of the year. Everybody got to see how good she was.
“They play a brand of basketball that makes you make plays and forces you into decisions at a fast pace. We made some good ones. We made some plays and we made some turnovers."
The Lady Bulldoggs (24-6) had three players in double figures. Latrice Perkins led the way with 19 points. Chellia Watson had 15 points and Lexi Maddox chipped in 10.
For Mays (20-9), Street led all scorers with 33 points. Natoria Hill chipped in 13 points in the winning cause.
The Lady Bulldoggs went on an 8-2 run to start the game, capped off by a basket from Perkins. However, the Lady Raiders were able to get back in it with a basket and three-point play by Natoria Hill, cutting Winder-Barrow's lead to 8-6.
Mays tied the score with a basket by Street.
It was a back-and-forth affair for the remainder of the quarter, but with seconds left in the first quarter and Mays up 12-10, Street nailed a 3-pointer, giving the Lady Raiders a 15-10 lead at the end of the period.
However, the Lady Bulldoggs scored the first two baskets of the second quarter, cutting Mays' lead to 15-14. But Winder-Barrow then went through a dry spell as far as scoring, allowing the Lady Raiders to increase their lead to 19-14.
The Lady Bulldoggs struggled turning the ball over late in the first half, enabling Mays to maintain its lead. However, Maddox hit a 3-pointer to bring Winder-Barrow to within five at 22-17.
Mays responded right back, though, as Hill scored, was fouled and converted the three-point play, giving the Lady Raiders a 25-17 lead with less than two minutes left.
It was part of a 9-0 run by Mays to give the Lady Raiders a 31-17 lead. Chelia Watson hit a 3-pointer as time ran out, but Mays would go to the locker room at halftime with a 32-20 lead.
The Lady Bulldoggs got off to a good start in the second half as Watson hit another three to cut the deficit to nine. Then Perkins scored, cutting Mays' lead to 32-25 and prompting a time out by the Lady Raiders.
Winder-Barrow turned up the defensive intensity, which resulted in another basket by Perkins. It was part of an 8-0 run by Winder-Barrow to start the second half.
With 2:33 to go in the third quarter, Winder-Barrow trailed Mays 35-32. Then Brandi Heard nailed a three-pointer to give the Lady Raiders a 38-32 lead. That began a 13-4 run by the Lady Raiders to close out the third quarter with Mays up 48-36.
However, the Lady Bulldoggs began the fourth quarter with another basket by Perkins. Then Watson drove to the basket, scored and was fouled. Watson made the free throw, cutting Mays' lead to 48-41.
At that point, the Lady Raiders went on a 6-2 run, spearheaded by their best player, Street. However, with a little over two minutes left in the game, Perkins hit a three-pointer, cutting the Lady Raiders lead to 54-46.
Street was fouled at the other end, but missed both free throws. However, Mays was able to get the defensive rebound.
Street was fouled again and this time hit both free throws. That proved to be a key rebound by Mays in the game. The Lady Raiders would go on to salt away the victory, ending Winder-Barrow's hopes of making to the state finals two years in a row.
"I was really proud that our girls came out in the second half and made it a game,” Thomas said. "We made some big shots, got some rebounds, got some turnovers. They mainly hurt us with turnovers and rebounds and those are some of the fundamentals of the game.
“Our team has a saying: 'No rebounds, No rings.' That came from Pat Summit. I think if they go back and look at the stats, we'll see that we lost the battle on the boards. That's super important. It's hard to win games when other teams out-rebound you."
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