The Long County girls’ basketball team hit the road Tuesday to take on Swainsboro in the first round of the AA state playoffs.
Though the teams appeared to be evenly matched based on their records, it was painfully clear that on this night, the Lady Tigers were the better team. Swainsboro led 26-17 at the half. In the third period the Lady Tide made a run, narrowing the deficit to a bucket. But just when it appeared the light was at the end of the tunnel for Long County, the Lady Tigers picked up the pace and went on to win 58-46.
Lady Tide head coach Brian Todd said his team fought hard all night, but just couldn’t put everything together to have a shot at the win.
“We just couldn’t get into a rhythm,” Todd said. “We were always clawing back trying to keep it close. We cut it to within two points midway through the third, but could never get the lead.”
Todd added that an early injury to one of the team’s starters made it difficult for the Lady Tide to attempt a comeback.
“We also lost Malaka (Elix) to an ankle injury in the first and she never came back, which limited our guard rotation and, I think, led to some fatigue,” he said.
The leading scorers for the Lady Tide were Mya Howard with 13 points, Elllexus Wrighton with 10 points, and Anazha Kincaid, who chipped in eight points. With the loss, Long County ended its season with a 19-10 record. Swainsboro (20-10) fell 56-44 to Greater Atlanta Christian (18-9) in the second round of the state tournament, ending the Lady Tigers’ season, according to maxpreps.com.
Though the Lady Tide lost in the first round, Todd said he was still pleased with his team’s play this year.
“I thought we played some good basketball this year,” he said. “We started this process three years ago with only five wins but have improved dramatically since then.”
Three years ago, Long County posted a 5-22 record. Last year the Lady Tide improved to 18-10, and followed that up with this year with a 19-10 mark. If they are going to have that same success next year, they will have to do so in a higher region, as the Tide will move up to AAA basketball.
Their new opponents will be Appling County, Brantley County, Pierce County, Tattnall County and Liberty County.
“We are looking forward to the challenge of AAA next year,” Todd said.