By Derrick Mahone
It was one of those games that Henry County coach Carl Caputa says his Ladyhawks "coulda, woulda and shoulda" won, but literally and figutively gave away.
Henry County was on the brink of upsetting top-ranked Northeast-Macon at home Tuesday night, but too many turnovers cost the Ladyhawks in the 43-41 defeat in a key Region 4-AA contest.
The Ladyhawks committed 29 turnovers, but still managed to be within a field goal of tying the game in the final seconds.
"We had the right gameplan," Caputa said. "We didn't do the fundamental things like meet the ball when it was thrown. We didn't hustle. It was our guards making most of the turnovers, and you can't have that. You can't have your guards making that many turnovers."
Northeast has won all six meetings between the schools since they were placed in the same region. This time, the Ladyhawks let one slip away.
"It hurts more knowing that you could have beaten them," Henry County senior point guard Briana Williams said. "We know they are not better than us. We could have and should have beaten them."
Williams said the team had a lack of focus, especially in the first two quarters. The Mercer signee said she is not sure why the team didn't play with more intensity in the early part of the game. Caputa refused to blame it on the team not playing in a week because this past weekend games were postponed because of inclement weather.
"That's not the reason," Caputa quickly responded when asked about the layoff. "We did not do the things we were capable of doing."
Henry County was down by eight points with 1:03 remaining in the game, but refused to quit. The Ladyhawks pulled to within 43-41 on a lay-up by Ky'Laine Rogers with 0.60 seconds remaining. Northeast inbound the ball as time expired after a Henry County time-out.
Raiderettes coach Alvin Copeland wasn't surprised that Henry County mounted a late comeback.
"I thought we played pretty good in spots," Copeland said. "We were basically able to control the tempo. I knew Henry County would make another run at some point in the game. We were just able to hold on to it."
Northeast was able to overcome its 26 turnovers for the win, which improved it to 13-1 overall and 6-0 in the region. Henry County drops to 7-3 and 3-2.
"We glad that we were able to walk out her with a win," Copeland said. "Henry County is a good team."
The Raiderettes were led by Maria Bond, who had 22 points and Jerryshia Williams added 13 for the win. Williams finished with a game-high 21 points while Rogers added 13 for Henry County, which lost to its first Class AA team this season. The Ladyhawks other two losses came to Class AAAA Dutchtown.
"We're just have to play like we practice, and practice like we play," Williams said. "Should have came out in the first quarter played like we did in the fourth quarter. We have to play more consistent."
Northeast boys 73, Henry County 62: The Warhawks were not able to hold on to a three point halftime lead as they lost an important region contest. Northeast took the lead for good at the end of the third quarter when Mike Palmer made all three free throw attempts for a 47-44 lead. Palmer was fouled on a 3-point shot attempt as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter.
The senior two-sport standout finished with 16 points to lead three other Raider players in double figures.
Dante Gastin and Denzel Council each finished with 15 points while Travis Sherman added 13. Northeast improves to 14-1 overall and 6-0 in the region while Henry County dropped to 5-5 and 1-3. The Warhawks were led by Larrentis Thomas, who finished with 15 points.
The third quarter featured four ties and eight lead changes before Palmer's free throws gave the Raiders the lead for good going into the fourth quarter.
Last month, Palmer led the South all-stars to a 27-20 victory over the North squad in the annual Georgia Athletic Coaches Association all-star game in Columbus.