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Lady Cardinals capture region title

By Brian Paglia

bpaglia@news-daily.com

For three quarters, the Jonesboro girls basketball team displayed its supreme talent and force better than it had an entire season considering the opponent, for perhaps no team would relish the role of spoiling the Lady Cardinals' 25-game winning streak more than region rival Dutchtown.

Dutchtown went about that mission in the fourth quarter with few cards left to play. The Lady Bulldogs had not shot the ball efficiently, could not find space to run in transition and was severely outmatched in the post. All that was left to try was to voraciously attack the rim, regardless of the outcome.

In the short-term, the strategy threatened Jonesboro's comfortable lead and tarnished an otherwise flawless performance, but it didn't alter the No. 3 Lady Cardinals' 41-36 victory over Dutchtown, earning Jonesboro the Region 4-AAAA tournament championship and extending its winning streak to 26 games.

Down 11 with less than five minutes left in the game, Dutchtown (20-5) began to drive with admirable persistence. Behind Abria Trice (14 points) and Brittney Strickland (15 points), the Lady Bulldogs enlivened its chances with a 9-0 run built purely on drives that led to free throws.

But the margin never got closer than two down the stretch. Joi Holyfield (15 points) hit eight free throws down the stretch to withstand the comeback. Drameka Griggs added 12 points, while Chanee Key (10 rebounds) and Sharmesia Smith (six points, eight rebounds) established the Lady Cardinals' dominance in the frontcourt.