When Washington County girls coach Sug Parker left the locker room before the game, he heard his team making more noise than it usually does.
Parker thought – and hoped – this meant big things right at the start.
He was right.
The Lady Hawks came out with a burst early and used that cushion to stay in front by double figures the entire game in a 64-48 win over Westside on Saturday in the Region 3-AAA girls tournament championship at Josey.
“I said, ‘They’re ready to play,’ ” Parker said.
In the opening few minutes, the Lady Hawks (27-0) forced turnovers, controlled the boards and caught fire from behind the arc.
Washington County, which has won three consecutive region titles, made four 3-pointers as it opened up a 24-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Shonterria Kitchens and Allisha Gray shared the scoring load, combining for 21 points in the first quarter. Gray ended up with a game-high 30. Kitchens had 19.
Westside’s play inside kept the Lady Patriots in the game for a while, but some missed chances disrupted hopes of making it a single-digit game at halftime.
“They’re the defending state champs, and this is a new thing for us,” Lady Patriots coach Ivory Hugee said.
Washington County jumped ahead by 20 in the third as Gray scored five quick points in the period.
But Westside still battled and cut it to 11 at 50-39 after a basket by Ritzy Griffin, who had eight points in the game and was one of four Westside players to post at least eight points. Azia Gibson’s 12 points lead the team.
However, every time the Lady Patriots (23-4) threatened, Washington County converted a second-chance opportunity or forced a turnover.
“We just made too many mistakes,” Hugee said. “But I’m proud of them. We get to play a home playoff game.”