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Drew seniors go out on top

Photo by Jerry Jackson
Drew forward Daysha Halyard (20) tries to get a shot off as she is surrounded by Stockbridge defenders on Friday in a Region 4-AAA contest. Drew won 73-20 in its final regular season home game of the season.

Photo by Jerry Jackson Drew forward Daysha Halyard (20) tries to get a shot off as she is surrounded by Stockbridge defenders on Friday in a Region 4-AAA contest. Drew won 73-20 in its final regular season home game of the season.

Drew coach Candence Jackson could sense that her team was playing lackadaisically in the opening moments of its Region 4-AAA game against visiting Stockbridge Friday.

Jackson made a lineup switch at the beginning of the game, and started all seniors in honor of their final regular-season home game.

That gesture looked like it was going to backfire on the sixth-ranked Lady Titans as Stockbridge was hanging tough.

After a spirited timeout where Jackson was shouting for her team to “pick up the tempo,” the Lady Titans got the message.

Drew’s trapping defense helped secure a 73-20 victory to extend its win streak to 10 games, heading into next week’s region tournament.

The Lady Titans led 16-11 after the first quarter, and pressured Stockbridge into 25 turnovers while surrendering nine points the rest of the game.

“I think the girls were a little anxious and excited that it was Senior Night,” Jackson said. “We sort of lost our focus in the first few minutes. It didn’t take long to get refocused after the timeout. They regrouped and took care of business. We were trying to make a statement going into the region tournament.”

Kiera Henderson led Drew with 22 points and Rutgers signee Precious Person finished with 21. Lakiah Sims added 15 points for the Lady Titans, who finished the season with a 21-4 record.

The team will have a coin flip with Sandy Creek to determine the top seed in the region tournament at Eagle’s Landing High. The teams split during the regular season and each finished with a 15-1 record in the region.

“We are anxious and ready for the region tournament,” Person said. “We are going to play in the region tournament with a chip on our shoulder.”

It seemed as if Stockbridge was playing that way Friday as it led the Lady Titans the majority of the first quarter.

Drew took over late in the first quarter and dominated the second and third periods as Lady Tigers leading scorer Deborah Hoe got into foul trouble. With Hoe on the bench, Stockbridge went into a scoring drought and mustered only four points.

Hoe finished the night with seven points to lead the Lady Tigers as teammate Miracle Johnson had six. Stockbrige ends the regular season with a 6-18 record.

“That was the game-changer,” Stockbridge coach Tyecia Powell said about not having Hoe on the floor.

“It hurt that our starting point guard went down early,” she continued. “Drew is a good team. Now, we are preparing for the region tournament.”

Both Drew and Stockbridge need wins on Wednesday to secure state-playoff berths.

“Our focus is on the playoffs now,” Jackson said. “We are going back to the lab to start preparation. We are ready to get it started.”