By Jeffery Armstrong
The Mundy's Mill Lady Tigers killed two birds with one stone Monday night in the first round of the Region 4-AAAAA girls basketball tournament at Mundy's Mill High.
In defeating the No. 7 seed East Coweta Lady Indians 61-39, Mundy's Mill not only clinched the team's first state playoff appearance, they also managed to eliminate the team that has whipped them pretty handily during the team's three-year existence.
"This game was a form of payback for us - East Coweta used to beat us up," said Mundy's Mill senior Essence Brown. "I feel bad that they're going home, but not too bad."
This year it was the Lady Tigers who played the bullies on the block, outscoring East Coweta 15-5 in the second quarter to go from a 10-9 first-quarter lead to a 25-14 lead at the half. Mundy's Mill, the No. 2 seed, wasn't threatened after that, getting steals which led to inside baskets and passing the ball crisply to blow the game open. The Lady Tigers led by as many as 20 points during one stretch in the fourth quarter, as head coach Teresa Hobbs, who's presiding over her first state playoff team, emptied her bench in the second half.
Mundy's Mill advances to play Starr's Mill, 61-57 winners over Lovejoy Monday evening, in the tournament semi-finals Wednesday at 6 p.m.
"We're real excited to have clinched a state playoff berth. We've worked really hard for this," said Brown, who led Mundy's Mill with 11 points. "Now that we're in, we've got to try and beat Starr's Mill and get to the region championship game. If we get there, I hope we play Newnan again."
Mundy's Mill junior guard Kim Jackson was also elated to clinch state, especially after losing in the first round last year to East Coweta.
"People have watched us grow as a team and they expected us to be better," she said. "It's really gratifying to play well as a team, especially since the juniors and seniors have been playing together for a while. Now we've got to work to win the region title."
"I'm so happy for these kids. Our first few years, we were getting beat by 30, 40 points or more and my job was to get them to believe in themselves," Hobbs said. "The good thing about these girls is that they never gave up; they always gave me everything. Now they can see that if you put the effort in and never give up, you can attain success in sports and life. I'm also proud of my sophomore point guard Theru Ross - she scored 10 points and played a heady game. She's not flashy, but she's been great for us all season long."
Starr's Mill 61, Lovejoy 57: The Lovejoy Lady Wildcats made a valiant fourth-quarter comeback effort, but it was too little, too late, as the Starr's Mill Lady Panthers clinched their first-ever state playoff berth with the close win, ending Lovejoy's season.
Starr's Mill outscored Lovejoy 22-8 in the second quarter to take a 30-19 halftime lead and never lost the lead after that. Lovejoy scored 22 points in the fourth quarter, but the team missed eight free throws and made crucial mistakes in the quarter to lose the game.
Lovejoy's Rashon Gaylord led all scorers with 17 points; Britteny Henderson scored 12, Shari Buford added 11 and Dekesha Weston chipped in 10.