Holding on to the No. 1 spot in Region 3-AAAAA is no easy task, but the Lady Tigers made it looked easy Tuesday when they took on the Savannah High Lady Blue Jackets in Hinesville. Bradwell walked away with a lopsided 67-36 victory.
Ninety minutes later, the Tiger boys battled the Savannah squad, but lost a close battle. The Blue Jackets pulled ahead in the last minutes of the fourth quarter to win 68-60.
Lady Tigers 67,
Lady Jackets 36
The Savannah High Lady Blue Jackets were poised to make a statement after the Lady Tigers handed them an 11-point loss in Savannah on Jan. 5. Hitting the net first and moving the ball efficiently, they were determined to take the lead and run with it. However, their lead lasted only three minutes before the Lady Tigers went on a 12-point run to close the first quarter up 12-5.
After the first, the Blue Jackets never led again, but, at one point, did come within 3 points.
"We felt like we needed to make a statement tonight, "Lady Tiger coach Faye Baker said. "Last time we went to Savannah, we were behind the whole game until the middle of the fourth quarter. So, I felt like we needed to redeem ourselves and we had something to prove."
Several times, Lady Tiger junior guard Mariah Maternik set up senior forward Seandre Lee, passing the ball low and inside to help Lee rack up points. "I’m not about the points, I’m all about winning," Maternik said.
Lee led in scoring with 28 points — 2 shy of her career-high 30 against region rival Beach High. When Lee sat the bench, Maternik took over and the reserves fed her the ball. She drove into the center for several layups and accumulated 16 points.Rounding out the top scorers was Lady Tiger LaNiqua Fowler, who chipped in 10 for the night. Although the Blue Jackets held Lady Tigers Quintunya Chapman and Camille Jackson to 6 and 4 points, respectively, the pair were responsible for most of the steals throughout the game, which netted points in return.
By the end of the third, the Hinesville girls led 45-27. In the fourth, the Hinesville girls outscored the Blue Jackets 22-9.
The top scorer for Savannah was Alicia Lawton with 16 points, 12 of which were from downtown. Alexus Parker, who Lady Jackets coach April Tate called the best player in Region 3-AAAAA in a Savannah Morning News story on Jan. 17, couldn’t manage more than 4 points in the game.
The Lady Tigers retain the top spot in the region at 9-0 with an overall 19-1 record. The Lady Jackets, at 5-12 and 4-5, are No. 6 in the region.
"We’ve been really working hard on our zone offense," Baker said, crediting her players’ ability to gel both defensively and offensively for the victory. "The kids are doing a much better job of being patient, swinging the ball and reading. They are taking what the defense gives them."
Tigers 60, Jackets 68
It looked bleak at first as the Tiger boys trailed 17-9 at the end of the first quarter. Tiger Tykeem Brown knocked in 9 of his 11 points in the second quarter to narrow the gap, but the Blue Jackets managed another 14 points to stay up 31-26 at intermission.
The Tigers trailed by 9 in the fourth when, suddenly, Nafiys Johnson hit a trey shot. Tiger Chris Simpson came into the game and nailed another one from the 3-point line. Simpson hit one from the line, snagged an inbound pass and leaped into the air from downtown. He landed with a thud, but the ball flew from his fingers into the net, putting the Hinesville boys back in the game. With six minutes left, the Tigers trailed by 1, but fouled a Blue Jacket player and sent him to the line. The Blue Jackets then stole a pass, hit a layup and drew another foul.
Tiger DeAndre Duran hit a layup plus one to bring Bradwell within 2 points of the lead. However, the Jackets drew another foul. The point spread went back and forth, but in the end the Blue Jackets made it to the line more often and hit the free throws for a 68-60 victory.
"They played their hearts out tonight and when you give it your best you are still a winner," Tiger coach Peter Woodard said. "Unlike the game we had against them in Savannah, this was a totally different ball game and I was really pleased with their game tonight. The only thing I’m still saying is we got to make our free throws and we have to do better on the boards."
The boys are 4-16 overall and 2-7 in the region.
The Tigers will be at Jenkins High on Saturday with the girls tipping-off at 6:30 p.m.