The Bradwell Institute Lady Tigers brought their A game Friday night.
Shaquoia Crockett scored 21 points and Akeyla Richardson added 14 and a pair of key defensive plays to lead BI to a 50-38 win over Richmond Hill High School on Friday night in Richmond Hill.
The Lady Tigers improved to 4-9 overall and remained unbeaten in Region 3B-AAAAAA. Richmond Hill fell to 8-3 overall and 3-1 in the subregion.
Free throws played a big role in the outcome for both teams. The Lady Tigers hit 21 of 27 from the free-throw line and hit 6 of 9 in the fourth period while also putting together their best performance of the season, BI coach Faye Baker said.
“I’ve been telling people all year that we have talent, we just haven’t been executing or playing as a team,” she said. “That’s why we’ve struggled.”
As for her team’s solid performance at the line, Baker said it caught her by surprise.
“That’s the best free-throw performance we’ve had in a long, long time,” she said.
Richmond Hill, meanwhile, made only 12 of 31 free throws and appeared sluggish early on in the Lady Wildcats’ first game since Dec. 15.
“I don’t want to blame it on not playing for a couple weeks because we practiced more this break than I ever have,” Richmond Hill coach Elizabeth Bennett said. “But we missed 19 free throws. We didn’t deserve to win. We have to continue to get better and learn from our mistakes and you can’t miss 19 free throws and expect to win.”
The Lady Wildcats, who won the Region 2-AAAA title last season before moving up to Class AAAA, were led by junior forward Keeara Jackson, who finished with 24 points
Jackson scored 20 in the second half as Richmond Hill, which trailed 16-10 at halftime, made a number of runs at BI in the final two periods.
But each time, the Lady Tigers responded with defense — including back-to-back steals and layups off inbound passes by Richardson with less than three minutes left in the third period to give BI a 30-19 lead at the time — and clutch free-throw shooting, especially from Crockett.
The junior guard was 12 of 15 from the line, and made 10 of 13 free throws in the second half. Selena Maines was 3 of 4 from the free-throw line in the second half and made 5 of 6 foul shots in the game to finish with five points. Leitia Leiataua added eight points for BI.
“I thought Coco (Crockett) had her best team performance tonight,” Baker said. “I was really proud of the way (Richardson) and Leitia ran out strong for us late in the game. They made good decisions in taking care of the ball and made good shots. I was also happy with the way we picked up our defensive intensity.”
The Lady Wildcats were without center Charmia Graham, who is out with an injury. And Bennett said her junior-dominated lineup still is learning and her team had trouble adjusting defensively.
“But even when you don’t play your best, you can still do other things to help you win, like getting to the free-throw line,” Bennett said. “We did that, but when you don’t capitalize on it you’re in trouble, and we were in trouble tonight.”
Baker said she looks forward to playing Richmond Hill again.
“I know they have lost some key players to injuries and I know they’re not the typical team they’d normally be,” she said. “She (Bennett) is a good coach and I have a lot of respect for her. She’s really done a great job with this program. I know when we play them again she’s going to have them ready and it’s going to be a challenge.”
Bennett, who is in her sixth season at Richmond Hill, said Bradwell is one of the area’s top programs.
“Whether they have a down year or an up year, they’re always competitive and you’ll always have to respect them,” Bennett said. “And (Baker) is just a great coach. She does such a good job with her program. She actually taught me a lot at the high-school level about running a program just by watching her and her program and what she does with it.”
The two teams meet again Feb. 1 in Hinesville. Bradwell plays again Tuesday at Jenkins.
BI 10 6 19 15 — 50
RH 4 6 11 17 — 38
BI scorers: Crockett 21, Richardson 14, Leiatava 8, Manies 5 and Hargrove 2