Photo by Derrick Mahone
Drew senior Kiara Henderson (3) asks for the ball as she is guarded by Henry County’s Kiana Coleman in the fourth quarter of the Lady Titans win on Friday in the semifinals of the Region 4-AAA tournament.
Lakyha Sims played a large part in Drew’s Region 4-AAA semifinals win on Friday.
The sophomore dominated the first quarter and played a large role in holding off Henry County’s second-half charge as Drew won 57-47 to advance to the region championship game.
Drew, the defending region champions, improved to 23-4 with its 12th straight win. The Lady Titans will meet Sandy Creek on Saturday for the championship.
Henry County (12-15) will battle Eastside for third place in the consolation game.
The imposing figure of sophomore Sims in the middle was more than the Lady Hawks could handle much of the evening.
Sims was 3-of-6 from the field and 5-of-7 from the line in the first quarter for 11 points, as the Lady Titans built a 20-8 lead after eight minutes, and the lead grew to 26-8 before Henry County started hitting a few free throws in the second.
Drew’s Precious Person, the region player of the year, had three steals and a pair of blocked shots in the first half, then almost single-handedly subdued the furious Lady Hawks rally in the fourth.
Despite committing 22 turnovers in the first half while scoring just 16 points, the Lady Hawks were far from on life support.
Whatever coach Carl Caputa said to his team at halftime seemed to work. After Drew had built its maximum lead at 40-17 midway through the third, the Lady Hawks found some magic.
On sheer hustle, Henry County kept battling and battling, mounting a 15-1 rally that reduced the lead to single digits at 41-32 with 5:18 to play. The play that ended the rally was a Danielle Hickman steal, a pass to Taylor Cistrunk who fed the assist to Natalie Harice for the basket.
Drew’s low-error first-quarter deteriorated into turnovers and an offense that didn’t get the ball into Sims as often.
Henry County started to put on the pressure with a few fast breaks. The crowd was back into the game, and the powerful Lady Titans had a game to play after all.
“This team never quits,” Caputa said. “They give a good effort. Drew is a good team.”
Sims was strong on offense in the first for Drew and a powerhouse off the glass the rest of the way, finishing with 13 rebounds and 18 points. Person scored 18 as well, attempting 16 shots from the floor. Sims and Person each had four steals.