MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Monroe did something to Washington County that not many teams have done in the past couple of years.
The Tornadoes led the game for the first 11 minutes.
The Golden Hawks woke up, outscoring Monroe by 13 points during the final five minutes of the second quarter, and went on to a 58-46 win. The victory gives Washington County a second consecutive visit to Macon for the GHSA Class AAA Final Four.
The Golden Hawks were able to advance despite a tough shooting night that saw them miss 17 of their 18 shots from behind the 3-point line and shoot 13 for 36 from the free-throw line.
“It was most definitely one of our worst games of the year, and believe me, I am not exaggerating when I say that,” Washington County coach Sug Parker said. “More than anything else, I think it showed the heart of our kids to step up and still find a way to win despite having such a poor shooting night.”
It certainly didn’t hurt Parker that he had Allisha Gray on his side. The junior guard had 18 of her team’s 30 points in the first half and kept Washington County in the game early when everyone else was struggling. She scored 11 of her team’s first 12 points, but the Golden Hawks trailed 15-12 at the five-minute mark in the second quarter. That’s when Sheirkerriea Nelson got things going, scoring seven consecutive points to give her team a 30-17 halftime lead.
Monroe would not go away, thanks to the scoring of Keshondra Price and Shenuqua Young and a defense that forced 22 turnovers.
“I thought we played well enough to get the win and advance to the next round,” said Gray, who ended the night with 32 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocked shots. “We know that we have a target on our backs every time we play, because we won state last year, but we like it like that. We get everyone’s best game, and that will just make us better. We are happy with the win, because that means we still have a chance to defend our title.”