By Rory Sharrock
Although the football team is no longer in the playoffs, Mt. Zion fans were still treated to an entertaining Friday night of high school sports.
The Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-point first-quarter lead and never looked back as they beat Stockbridge 63-51 in a Region 4-AAAA Clayton/Henry County crossover game at Mt. Zion High School.
Friday night's triumph improved Mt. Zion's record to 5-3 and 2-0 within the league. Stockbridge's loss drops it to 0-3 and 0-2 in region play.
"The girls came out fired up with intensity. They had a good practice yesterday (Thursday) and it carried over," said Mt. Zion girls head coach Dock Gammage. "If they'll learn to keep practicing that hard, we may be able to do something."
Stockbridge struggled to buy a basket in the first quarter, scoring only four points, all of which came courtesy of senior power forward Alexis Taylor.
The Lady Tigers had a more balanced and fluid attack in the second quarter, but Mt. Zion's overall team speed was able to breakdown Stockbridge's man defense and led 31-15 at intermission.
"We just concentrated on trying to spread them out as wide as possible to leave gaps and lanes to the basket. That's all there was to it at that point," said Gammage.
Stockbridge mounted a small rally to close out the third and Synamon Martin's steal of the inbound pass to start the fourth quarter and eventual layup made the score 46-36, Mt. Zion.
However, the Lady Tigers hit another long dry spell and were held scoreless until the midway point of the fourth quarter, which proved to be the deciding blow that propelled Mt. Zion to victory.
"The games that we've had so far, we've been doing the same thing. We've been working hard to start playing from the jump and it hasn't been happening yet," said Stockbridge girls head coach Tondra Irby. "We thought when we came out tonight (Friday) that we were going to do the opposite, play defense, offense, transition box out and rebound, but it seems like it's not happening yet. We have scorers, but the girls aren't understanding that we have to score."
Three Lady Bulldogs hit in double figures led by junior small forward Tierra Newell, who posted a game-high 22 points.
"We worked as a team. We played defense and everything fell into place on offense. I'm confident that I can whatever I want to on the floor," said Newell.
Sophomore point guard Jahlecia Walter followed up with 12 and freshman guard/forward Precious Person added 10 points.
Martin dropped a team-high 18 points for Stockbridge while Taylor netted 11 in a losing effort.
In boys action, Mt. Zion led 16-15 after the first quarter, but Stockbridge began to light it up in the second went up 44-33 at the half. Stockbridge won the game 87-66.