By Phil Albert
Special to The Daily
As expected, top seeds Jonesboro and Dutchtown advanced to the Region 4-AAAA girls basketball tournament semifinals and gained automatic state tournament berths Tuesday night at Stockbridge.
But not without tense moments.
Jonesboro (26-1) led by 25 points after three quarters against Alcovy before holding on for a nine-point victory, 57-48, against the bottom-seeded visitors from Newton County.
Meanwhile, Dutchtown had its traditional slow start but dominated host Stockbridge, 48-30, as the Lady Bulldogs qualify for the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Jonesboro 57, Alcovy 48: Playing too safe and conservative in the final quarter nearly cost the top-seed and third-ranked Lady Cardinals.
Up 50-25 after three quarters, the Lady Cardinals were outscored by Alcovy, 23-7, in the fourth quarter. The ninth-seeded Lady Tigers scored on a barrage of three-pointers and scrappy play, although questionable coaching strategy by Alcovy may have prevented the team from a closer result. The team did not foul Jonesboro players in the final minute of play.
Stretches of 17-2 and 14-2 scoring runs to start the first and second quarters gave Jonesboro a comfortable 33-8 lead late in the second quarter. Jonesboro built 28-point leads in the second and third quarters, eventually taking 25-point leads at halftime, 38-13, and the third quarter break, 50-25.
Jonesboro coach Jimmy Fields mixed lineups in the fourth quarter, but a rejuvenated Alcovy team did not stop battling, forcing numerous Lady Cardinal turnovers and poor shooting.
Alcovy's Alex Tucker scored a game-high 17 points, including three 3-point buckets in the final quarter. Lisa Kossally and Tiffany Moody also aided in the comeback effort with nine and eight points respectively.
Drameka Griggs and Joi Holyfield led Jonesboro with 11 points each but nine points each came in the first half. Eleven players scored for Jonesboro. Sharmesia Smith and Angnay Williams added eight and seven points respectively.
Jonesboro will play Mt. Zion in the semifinals Thursday evening at 7 p.m. at Stockbridge.
Dutchtown 48, Stockbridge 30: Despite poor field goal shooting and a slow start, the second-seeded Lady Bulldogs had little problems against the seventh-seeded Lady Tigers.
An 11-2 run to end the first quarter gave Dutchtown a 13-6 lead.
The lead became 12 points after the first half, 26-14, and a 13-2 third-quarter run gave Dutchtown a commanding 39-16 lead entering the final quarter.
Brittney Strickland led all scorers with 17 points, 12 coming in the first half. Abria Trice added a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Courtney Durham and Kelly Wright had strong rebounding games with eight and six respectively.
Alexis Taylor had nine points and seven rebounds to lead Stockbridge.
Jessica Duncan had eight boards, while Amari Moreland and Jaquanda Martin added six boards apiece.
Stockbridge only hit five field goals through the first three quarters before hitting six in the final quarter.
The Lady Tigers committed 26 turnovers.
Dutchtown finished 17-of-54 from the floor and finished with 42 team rebounds, scoring on many second efforts.
Dutchtown has its first-ever trip to the state tournament and its first-ever 20-win season. The Lady Bulldogs (20-7) will play Forest Park at 4 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals at Stockbridge.