Photo by Heather Middleton
By Derrick Mahone
Forest Park coach Steven Cole admitted to being a little nervous about his team playing for the first time after a seven-day layoff.
He had no need after the way his team dominated Lovejoy in a 73-24 win Friday in the semifinals of the Region 4-AAAA tournament at Mundy's Mill High
The No. 3 Lady Eagles dominated from the start as they kept their 14-game winning streak alive heading into Saturday's region championship game against North Clayton.
"I really didn't know how the team would react to being off for seven days," Cole said. "I was real pleased because they came out really focused and about business. I thought they played real well after the long layoff."
The Lady Panthers (21-5) were led by senior Jessica Anderson and junior Ashlee Cole, who scored 13 points each. Freshman Kayla Potts finished with 12 points for Forest Park, the top seed in the tournament after compiling a 17-0 record during league competition. Forest Park has yet to lose an in-state game this season.
"We were really focused because we had a good, long hard week of practice," Forest Park junior Cydni Bivins said. "We knew we had to come in here and win to be able to get to our other goal of winning region tournament. We feel the season will be a bust if we don't win region."
Forest Park will get its chance at 7 p.m. against North Clayton, a team it beat twice during the regular season. However, the last time the teams met, North Clayton give the Lady Panthers a battle before losing.
"We know they will come prepared," Forest Park senior Keyonna Allen said. "We will be better prepared this time. We want to be No. 1."
Lovejoy (13-14) was led by senior Yamaya Crawford. The Lady Wildcats will take on Mundy's Mill Saturday at 4 p.m. in the consolation game. Both teams will still advance to the state tournament next, but will have to play a road game.
North Clayton girls 56, Mundy's Mill 46: Arielle Thomas scored a game-high 19 points to lead the third-seeded Lady Eagles to the win. Destiny Tejada had 11 points while region player of the year finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
North Clayton (18-6) also got 12 points from Lorenda Holston. The Lady Eagles led throughout the contest.
Brianna McQueen scored a team-high 11 points before fouling out with 2:48 remaining as the Lady Tigers trailed 52-38. The team's split during the regular season with each winning on their home court.
"We played as a team, instead of everybody during their own thing," Cantrell said. "We was a lot more focused this team we played Mundy's Mill. I'm very happy with the win because we now get at least one state playoff game at home."