The battle royale between the top two girls teams in Class AAA turned into a blowout in the second half.
No. 1 Josey came back from a five-point halftime deficit to cruise past Richmond Academy 61-49 for the Region 3-AAA title at the Augusta State Athletic Complex Saturday night.
Josey also won the boys' title, defeating Glenn Hills 64-52.
"We had one of our famous prayer meetings at halftime," Josey coach Lynn Brantley said.
After Lady Musketeer Natasha McFarley's layup put ARC up 38-31 in the third period, Josey went on a 12-2 run going into the fourth. Josey's Kellie Holland and Sherika Wright combined for nine points in the run.
The Lady Eagles kept their feet on the pedal in the fourth period, opening up a 57-42 lead with 1:57 left in the game. Josey's Kenya Thompkins went inside to score eight of her 19 points in the final period.
"The first game they beat us black-and blue," Brantley said. "Now it was payback time."
To add injury to insult, Richmond Academy's Quanda Ball was carried off the court after a knee injury with 2:45 left in the game. She was taken to University Hospital for X-rays. According to Lady Musketeer coach Pat Rivers, Ball's season may be over.
Wright led the Lady Eagles with a game-high 25 points. McFarley led the Lady Musketeers with 19 points.
"I thought we played well for three quarters," Rivers said. "We hurt ourselves by not being aggressive, not going to the basket."
In the first half, it looked like Richmond Academy was going to pull away. April Steele converted a three-point play to cap the Lady Musketeers' 10-2 first-quarter run, putting Richmond ahead 14-7.
Josey then went inside as Wright and Thompkins combined for 12 points, bringing the Lady Eagles to within five at the half.
Both teams advance to the Class AAA state playoffs Friday at Jones County High School in Gray. Josey will play at 7 p.m. and Richmond Academy plays at 8:30 p.m. Their opponents have not been determined.
Josey leads the season series with ARC three games to one.
"To win the state championship we'll probably have to go through Richmond," Brantley said.
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