Photo by Jerry Jackson
Jonesboro forward Briana Benson (with the ball) had nine points in the Lady Cardinals’ 74-21 win over Locust Grove in the quarterfinals of the Region 4-AAAA tournament on Tuesday evening.
STOCKBRIDGE – Make it 19 straight for Jonesboro, and one step closer to a repeat region championship.
Senior guard Victoria Florence erupted for 20 points as the Lady Cardinals left no doubt in a 74-21 rout of Upson-Lee in the Region 4-AAAA tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday at Woodland High.
Coach Eric Harris said Florence was due for a big game.
“Victoria has played sort of a back seat role in the last couple of games,” Harris said. “She wanted to give her teammates an opportunity to get involved. But tonight before the game she told me this might be her last opportunity to let it go. And that’s what she did.”
Florence’s first bucket came on a short range jumper with just three minutes gone by in the first quarter. Two minutes later she knocked down the first of her four treys on the night.
Coupled with Briana Benson’s seven first quarter points, the Cardinals raced out to a 21-9 lead.
The Lady Knights were victims of an aggressive three-fourths court press from Jonesboro that, while not causing a lot of turnovers, held Upson-Lee to just two field goals in the second quarter. This helped give Jonesboro a 38-19 advantage going into halftime.
The Cardinals kept the pedal to the floor in the second half, scoring 15 unanswered points and stretching their lead to 54-18 before Harris called off the dogs.
Harris said he is starting to see signs of his team peaking — and just in time.
“They’re buying into the system, and that brings joy to my heart,” Harris said. “We had some up and down moments in the beginning, which you kind of expect after a coach has been around for two or three years. But they are finally starting to trust.”
Cardinals center Kimberly Dawkins said she sees it too.
“I mean we’ve been winning, but in the last game and this game we really have played great,” Dawkins said. “We came out ready to make a statement. It’s like our season, everything is starting over. And we’re coming out to work hard and make another final four appearance.”
Benson chipped in with nine points for the Cardinals (22-3), who take on Griffin Friday at 4:00 p.m. in the semifinals. The Lady Bears upset Dutchtown 46-45 Tuesday to advance.
Harris said that he’s not as concerned about who they’re playing as he is how they’re playing.
“For me, it’s always going to be about defense,” he said. “We want to start this postseason the same way we finished the regular season. And as long as we are playing hard and playing together, we’re pretty hard to beat.”