By Derrick Mahone
It took nearly three minutes of basketball before either Lovejoy or Mundy's Mill could score a point in their Region 4-AAAAA contest Tuesday night.
Mundy's Mill point guard Tandrea High broke a scoreless tied with a layup at the 5:14 mark in the first quarter. After that, there still wasn't much scoring between the two teams.
After beating Lovejoy by three points in a fast-pace game Saturday, Wildcats coach Lonnie Farmer decided to employ a slower pace this time the teams met.
In the end, Mundy's Mill got 18 points from High for a 35-30 win and a shot at the No. 2 seed in the upcoming region tournament.
"It was a lot slower pace," said High, whose team won Saturday's game 61-58. "We just learned to be patience and take our shots when we had them."
The Wildcats' patience was definitely tested at times as they committed 17 turnovers in the newly installed offensive scheme. Farmer said he could do without the high turnover number, but was happy his team escaped with a victory.
"Lovejoy is a very conservative team that plays good defense," Farmer said. "We didn't want to come in here and rush our shots. We were just waiting for them to give us some open looks."
Mundy's Mill was content at holding the ball at midcourt the majority of the game to force the Wildcats from their zone defense. A 13-point second quarter by Mundy's Mill was the only team either team got into double figures during a quarter.
High led the Tigers with a game-high 16 points as they improved to 21-4 overall and 14-3 in the region. Alexus Akins came off the Lovejoy bench to lead the Wildcats with 12 points. The Wildcats are 12-12 and 8-9 heading into Friday's regular season final against region leader Westlake.
Mundy's Mill needs a win over Riverdale Saturday to secure the No. 2 seed in the region tournament. The game will be played at noon Saturday at Mount Zion High.
"This will be a crucial game for us," Farmer said. "It is almost like a playoff game. I think a game like this will help us get ready for the tournament."
Farmer said he decided to slow the tempo to try to prevent Lovejoy guard Navilla Paul from having another big game like she did on Saturday. Paul ended up with only four points, all in the first quarter.
The sophomore scored the Wildcats' first basket of the game with 2:48 remaining in the opening quarter. She would later add to free throws for Lovejoy's only first quarter points as it trailed 8-4 in the opening quarter.
From there, Lovejoy would score nine points in each of the next three quarters.
"That is the style we play, and he (Farmer) made a decision to play like that tonight," Lovejoy coach Eric Habelt said. "We are comfortable in a slow down game. I felt our team played some great defense. The difference in the game was that we missed too many layups and put back shots. We just didn't put the ball in the hold. My girls give it everything they had, and I can't complain."
Lovejoy (boys) 69, Mundy's Mill 52: Wildcats guard Cameron Solomon scored a game-high 30 points in the region win. It was the fourth time this season that the senior has scored at least 30 points in a game.
Teammate David Smith scored 21 points as the Wildcats held off an early fourth quarter rally from Mundy's Mill, which lost for the sixth time in its last seven game. Marvin Taylor led the Tigers with 16 points and Alex Rivera added 14.
Mundy's Mill pulled with in three points (47-44) early in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats went on a 9-2 run to pull away for the victory. Lovejoy, which is in second place in the region, improved to 14-9 overall and 13-4 in the region. Mundy's Mill dropped to 8-16 and 6-11.