Zone 'D' key to Curtis' title

Curtis Baptist debuted a defense so effective that it helped the Crusaders win the Region 2-AA girls basketball title.

The Crusaders defeated Robert Toombs 62-51 on Saturday, utilizing a 3-2 zone defense to avenge earlier two- and 10-point losses. It was the school's first region title since 1997 and the first time Robert Toombs lost a region game in four seasons, said Curtis Baptist coach Maria Swanson .

"No one thought we would win," she said. "It was definitely an upset."

Telia Hart scored a game-high 29 points in the win, and post Ritzy Griffin overcame a dislocated pinky finger to play strong defense in the final moments. Curtis Baptist, which trailed 13-5 after the opening quarter, was most effective in the middle two quarters, mixing up its halfcourt zone defense with a fullcourt zone press.

"I knew we could play with them," said Swanson, noting the two competitive losses earlier in the year. "We had to limit their fastbreaks and score in transition. We were also very physical with them."

Curtis Baptist will enter a Class AA opening-round state playoff game Wednesday on a five-game winning streak. The team is 21-7.

FIRST ACTION: The Cross Creek boys and Evans girls opened the Region 3-AAAA tournament with play-in wins over Harlem on Monday.

The Harlem boys finished their season 0-25 after a 69-47 defeat, though their coach longed for the season to continue.

"I never thought I would say this, but this is actually the funnest season I have ever had," said coach Kim Chambers . "We had no expectations. Everyone knew that eight of my JV players went to (new school) Grovetown. I had one returning player ... We kept working on getting better and getting better."

Chambers cringed when he found out second-leading scorer Darius Johnson would not be available to play Monday because he was out of town. (Columbia County schools were off Monday and today.)

"I felt like we had a chance to win two games," Chambers said. "That's why I'm so disappointed what ended up happening."

Johnson set what Chambers said was a school record for 3-pointers made in the season with 52 in 24 games.

The Region 3-AAAA tournament continues with four games today at Richmond Academy. Admission is $5.

BUCKLE UP: The four boys teams from Region 3-AAAA qualifying for the state playoffs will end up playing at least three games in three days this week. Snow amended the boys schedule to look like this: quarterfinals on Thursday, semifinals on Friday, third-place and championship games on Saturday.

First-round state playoff games for Class AAAA boys begin a week from Friday, so those teams will have six days to recover.

Laney faces a similar challenge in Region 3-AA boys.

REGION TOURNAMENT GLANCE

Region 5-AAAAA

At Stephenson

BUZZ: The Greenbrier boys and girls will chase state playoff bids.

Region 3-AAAA

At Richmond Academy

BUZZ: Twenty boys and girls games will he held over the next five days in one of the state's largest region tournaments.

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