Photo by Derrick Mahone
Forest Park junior Kayla Potts paced the Lady Panthers to victory, scoring 10 of her team-high 17 points in the second half and in overtime. Forest Park is 16-0 with Potts on the floor.
FOREST PARK — It wasn’t a set play, but there was no doubt to Kayla Potts’ Forest Park teammates and coaches that she was going to take what ended up being the game-deciding shot.
The junior point guard went coast-to-coast and made a layup with five seconds remaining for a 40-38 win over Northside-Columbus in the first round of the Class AAAAA playoffs on Tuesday.
“Kayla is a good point guard, and she made a good decision,” Forest Park coach Steven Cole said.
Potts said anyone of her teammates were capable of making the play.
“I think anybody on the team could have done it,” said Potts, who finished with nine points. “I just felt that it was my time.”
Northside had one final shot at tying or winning the game with three seconds remaining, but a pass hit a Lady Patriots player in the head and Forest Park retrieved the ball.
The Lady Panthers had a chance to ice the game earlier but Bresia McElrath missed two free throws with three seconds remaining.
Only moments earlier did McElrath make a pair of free throws to give the Lady Panthers the lead at 38-35 with 31 seconds remaining.
However, Northside would not go away as Taylor Jakes made a traditional three-point play to tie it at 38-38 with 10 seconds remaining.
“They are a good team,” Potts said. “This might be the most intense game we have played all year.”
After Jakes’ free throw to tie the game, Potts made a coast-to-coast drive for a two-point lead.
“We were looking for Kayla to make a play,” McElrath said.
Cole pointed to missed free throws and uncontested layups as a big factor in the Lady Panthers’ sluggish play. The team committed 13 turnovers, 10 in the second half.
“All our mistakes are correctable,” Cole said. “We are a young team, and we are going to live and die by our mistakes. I made mistakes as coach and could have done a better job tonight. I feel like I came up short as a coach. Luckily, I get another day.”
That day will come on Friday at 6 p.m. when Forest Park will host the Glynn Academy-Northside (Warner Robins) winner in the second round.
Shakira Thompson led the Lady Panthers with 10 points and Tiffany Wilson finished with 8 points.