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Jonesboro defense stymies Southwest DeKalb

Photo by Dennis Thomas
Jonesboro guard Victoria Florence drives to the basket.

Photo by Dennis Thomas Jonesboro guard Victoria Florence drives to the basket.

MORROW — Jonesboro’s Briana Benson led all scorers with 14 points to help the Lady Cardinals overcome a sluggish start and pull away to a 54-47 victory over Southwest Dekalb Friday at the Morrow High School Thanksgiving tournament.

This was a rematch of last season’s Class AAAA semifinals game, which SWD won at the Gwinnett Center.

Despite pressuring the Panthers into eight first quarter turnovers, the Cardinals cold shooting allowed SWD to keep things close for much of the first half.

Jonesboro dealt with two four-minute scoring droughts in the first half, despite having an 11-7 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

After Ashley Hand buried a basket at the 4:17 mark of the second quarter, the Cardinals failed to score again until senior guard Victoria Florence drained a three-pointer to halt a 10-0 SWD run.

The Panthers grabbed their first lead of the game a few seconds earlier when freshman Daisa Alexander hit the front in of a one-in-one at the line to put Southwest DeKalb up 17-16 with 1:18 left in the half. But Florence’s three and two free throws by Kimberly Dawkins helped Jonesboro to a 21-20 halftime lead.

First-year Jonesboro coach Lamar Harris saw his team come out looking more focused in the second half, as the Cardinals got big minutes from 5-feet-11 inch sophomore Michaelle Smith. Smith scored back-to-back buckets to punctuate an 11-3 Cardinal run that stretched their lead to nine points.

SWD forward Nicole Martin’s 13 points kept the Panthers within striking distance, but they couldn’t get closer than three points the rest of the way. Dawkins chipped in 10 points and two blocked shots for the Cardinals who forced 23 Southwest DeKalb turnovers.

Jonesboro will play its next game Friday at Dutchtown.