LaKiah Sims has been leading the Drew Titans in points and rebounding this season heading into Saturday’s match against Forest Park. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
RIVERDALE — Drew is coming off what coach Candence Jackson calls a successful holiday break.
The Titans won the consolation bracket of the First City Bank Shootout in Florida over the break, and now have a 10-2 record coming into the second half of the season.
“They played really well in the tournament,” Jackson said about her team. “We just want to continue to work hard and progress.”
The second half of the season, which includes the Titans Region 4-AAAAA, Div. A schedule starts Saturday with a key contest. Drew will host defending region champion and state semifinalist Forest Park to open its subregion schedule.
The Titans have never beaten Forest Park.
“Every game we are looking to get better,” Jackson said. “We don’t put any emphasis on one particular game. This is an opportunity to make history for our program. We use every game as a measuring stick for our program.”
Both teams have a combined 10-0 record against teams on the Div. B side of the region. But Saturday starts the subregion schedule that can decide seeding for the region tournament next month.
Forest Park comes into the game after a 55-53 loss on Friday to defending Class AAAAA champion Southwest DeKalb.
But Panthers coach Steven Cole said it will be another challenge his team will face.
“Drew is playing really well as a team,” Cole said. “They are probably the best team in our region. We can definitely learn a lot about our team in this game.”
At the First City Bank Shootout in Fort Walton Beach, Drew senior LaKiah Sims was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 25 points per game. The Titans opened the three-day tournament with a loss to Oakland, the No. 2 team in Tennessee before winning its next two games.
Drew’s only other loss came to Langston Hughes in the second game of the season. The Titans have two losses by a combined eight points.
“I’m really proud of this team’s progress,” Jackson said.
Drew entered the season with a chip on its shoulders after failing to making the state tournament last season after a loss to Whitewater (47-46) in the region tournament, which ended a six-game winning streak. The Titans had defeated Whitewater 47-33 earlier last season.
In the fourth game of the season, Drew defeated Whitewater 63-40 to avenge that loss. Drew’s only loss to a Georgia team was to Langston Hughes (59-58) in the third game of the season.
Forest Park players say playing back-to-back games against tough competition should help them come region tournament time. The Panthers will be without point guard Kayla Potts, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Last season, Potts was part of the two wins over Drew after returning from a year’s hiatus because of a knee injury.
“We are sort of use to playing without her now,” Forest Park forward Tiffany Wilson said. “We just have to continue to play hard. We know it will help in the long run playing against good teams every night.”