If it wasn't for sophomore Kenya Thompkins, there would be no Richmond Academy-Josey matchup today.
Thompkins scored all 15 of her points in the second half as Class AAA No. 1 Josey survived a severe scare from Laney, winning 55-51 in a girls' Region 3-AAA, sub-region A semifinal at Richmond Academy.
Josey also survived a scare at game's end when coach Lynn Brantley fainted in the locker room. Brantley, who is a diabetic, said she had not taken proper care of herself.
"I'm fine, but I need to get home and talk to my husband before he finds out," Brantley said. "I think the pressure we've had all week took its toll on us."
Brantley was referring to her team winning a coin toss Tuesday with Richmond Academy to play host to the sub-region tournament, before later in the day finding out that her team had to forfeit two games for using an ineligible player, which cost it a share of the regular season title.
The third meeting of the season between Josey (21-3) and defending state champion Richmond Academy (23-1) -- ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the Class AAA polls -- will take place today at 6 p.m. at the ARC gym for the Region 3-AAA, sub-region A championship.
Richmond Academy advanced to today's championship game with a 56-35 win over Swainsboro. Quanda Ball led the Lady Musketeers with 19 points.
The two teams split their regular season meetings.
Laney (13-12) nearly ruined the much anticipated matchup. Judy Burns scored 10 of her game-high 24 points in the opening half as Laney took a 24-20 lead into intermission.
"I told them (at halftime) that we were 16 minutes from going to the next step (Region 3-AAA tournament Feb. 20-21 at Augusta State University) or 16 minutes from putting our (basketball) clothes up for the year," Brantley said.
Thompkins led the charge, scoring seven points in the third period as Josey built a 41-33 lead after three periods.
"They threw the pressure on us in the third quarter and we turned it over five consecutive times before we figured it out," Laney coach Otis Smart said. "To me, that was the difference in the game."
But Laney did not go away, thanks to Burns. The Wildcats forward scored 10 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter to keep the game close.
Laney cut its deficit to two points on several occasions, including 53-51 with 46 seconds remaining thanks to two free throws by Ernesia Widaman.
But Thompkins sealed it for Josey with a shot in the lane with 26 seconds remaining.
"For them to be No. 1 in the state, I don't feel about it (the loss)," Smart said. "This is the third year in a row that we didn't make the state playoffs, but we had a run (1985-95) where we made it 11 consecutive years. We have a young team and we will be pretty good next year."
Lyndon Johnson scored 18 of his game-high 30 points in the second half as Swainsboro rallied in the final period to defeat Richmond Academy 69-56 in a boys Region 3-AAA, sub-region A matchup.
Swainsboro (13-11) was 29-of-44 from the free throw line, including 15-of-18 in the fourth period. Richmond Academy was 3-for-7 from the charity stripe for the game, including 2-of-2 in the final period.
Dewayne Footes complemented Johnson with 16 points for Swainsboro. Footes, who played on Swainsboro's 1995-96 Class AA state championship team, was 7-for-8 from the foul line in the final period after missing four of five free throw attempts in the first three periods.
The game was tied 54-54 with 3:52 remaining in the game, but Footes hit two free throws to give Swainsboro the lead, 56-54 for good. The Tigers scored nine consecutive points to take a 63-54 lead and complete control of the game with 45 seconds remaining in the contest.
Tuffy Walker led Richmond Academy (13-11) with 19 points while Quincy Murphy added 10 points.
Swainsboro will play the winner of Friday's late contest between Josey and Burke County at 7:30 p.m. today for the boys Region 3-AAA, sub-region A title.
SWAINSBORO GIRLS (35) -- Adriene Moore 1, Crystal Doyle 4, Katrina Sanders 2, Angela Thomas 13, Shawneka Ricks 8, Monikka Brown 7. Totals 14 6-15 35.
RICHMOND ACADEMY (56) -- April Steele 11, Natasha McFarley 11, Kristy Scott 1, Roxanne Graham 4, Quanda Ball 19, Edwina Johnson 2, Kendra Cox 6, Riquaya Morrison 2. Totals 23 9-17 56.
Swainsboro -- 8 13 8 6 -- 35
Richmond Academy -- 19 14 14 9 -- 56
3-point goals: Swainsboro 1 (Thomas), Richmond Academy 1 (McFarley). Records: Swainsboro 11-13, Richmond Academy 23-1. Next: Swainsboro concludes its season. Richmond Academy vs. Josey, Region 3-AAA, sub-region A championship game, today, 6 p.m., Richmond Academy.
SWAINSBORO BOYS (69) -- Shawn Lloyd 4, Damion Coleman 7, Xavier Brown 7, Will Claxton 1, Lyndon Johnson 30, Dante Brown 4, Dewayne Footes 16. Totals 19 29-44 69.
RICHNMOND ACADEMY (56) -- Mohammed Rashada 2, Charles Avery 2, Tuffy Walker 19, Kenny Dukes 6, Brad Reed 2, Aaron McTier 6, Jocana Pierce 5, James Stokeling 4, Quincy Murphy 10. Totals 25 3-7 56.
Swainsboro -- 14 10 20 25 -- 69
Richmond Academy -- 16 16 14 10 -- 56
3-point goals: Swainsboro 2 (Johnson 2), Richmond Academy 3 (Walker 3). Records: Swainsboro 13-11, Richmond Academy 13-11. Next: Swainsboro vs. Josey-Burke County winner, Region 3-AAA, sub-region A championship game, today, 7:30 p.m., Richmond Academy. Richmond Academy concludes its season.
LANEY GIRLS (51) -- Ernesia Widaman 10, Sharon Walker 2, Trina Davis 8, Judy Burns 24, Kim Brown 7. Totals 17 17-30 51.
JOSEY (55) -- Kellie Holland 12, Lakisha Lane 2, Sherika Wright 18, Nichelle Chapman 2, Kenya Thompkins 15, Michelle Drumgold 4, Sabrina Hawthorne 2. Totals 24 7-19 55.
Laney -- 11 13 9 18 -- 51
Josey -- 14 6 21 14 -- 55
Records: Laney 13-12, Josey 21-3. Next: Laney concludes its season. Josey vs. Richmond Academy, Region 3-AAA, sub-region A championship game, today, 6 p.m., Richmond Academy.