DUBLIN, Ga. -- It isn't unusual to see Lynn Brantley's trademark beige towel hit the gym floor during a Josey basketball game.
Tuesday night in the Region 3-AAA (B) subregion tournament, Brantley's towel was in motion early and often. In the end it was all worth it. Brantley's third-seeded Lady Eagles staged the perfect upset, hammering second-seeded Laney 71-55 and sending themselves back to the state tournament.
Josey's upset of Laney wasn't the only upset of the night. The fourth-seeded Glenn Hills girls shot down top-seeded Dublin, 52-45, to earn their first trip to the state tournament in 17 seasons.
If that wasn't enough, Glenn Hills' boys, who entered as the No. 4 seed, stunned top-seeded Josey, 76-55. Laney's and Dublin's boys played the late game.
"God is so good," Glenn Hills girls coach Bernard Bowman said. "I told the girls to play four quarters and good things would happen."
Unlike last week when Dublin used an 11-0 run during the fourth quarter to down Glenn Hills in the regular-season finale, the Lady Spartans built a 15-10 first-quarter lead and never trailed the remainder of the game.
The Lady Irish cut the lead to 33-32 heading into the fourth quarter, but Marian and Alexis Whitfield keyed an 8-0 run to start the fourth to build a 41-32 lead. Dublin trimmed the lead to three points late, but Marquita Lacey's clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch sealed the victory.
In the Josey-Laney girls game, Laney had its chances but couldn't find a way to beat the Lady Eagles for the third straight time this season. Laney shot a paltry 4-of-18 from the floor and lost four critical turnovers during the third as they were outscored 24-10. What made it even worse for Laney was the Lady Wildcats managed just six points in the final quarter.
Meanwhile, Josey used Sabrina Hawthorne's 28 points and 21 from Kenya Thompkins on the inside to put the exclamation point on the victory.
"Everybody kept telling us that we were going to lose (to Laney)," Hawthorne said. "We told them we'll see."
Laney played like a champion in the first, using eight Lady Eagles turnovers and converted 11 of its 17 shots from the floor in the second quarter to build a 39-30 halftime lead.
"We had to get them (players) to believe," Brantley said. "We were down by nine at halftime, but the seniors stepped it up. Sabrina played like she was possessed. She was determined that she wasn't going to be denied."
In the third quarter, Josey was also determined, connecting on 12 of its 18 shots and used a 14-4 run over the first 3:14 of the second half to pull to 43-42. Moments later, Hawthorne sank a bucket to give Josey a 48-47 lead, a lead it would never relinquish.
"It's very difficult to beat someone three times in one season," Brantley said. "In the first half, they were killing us on the inside. In the second half, we decided we'd take our chances on their outside shooting. So we went with a 2-1-2 defense, and I thought that was the key to the game."
The Glenn Hills boys put on a show of its own in its victory over Josey. The Spartans used 20 points from Brandon Clemon and 19 from William Conley to upend Josey. Glenn Hills built a 32-22 halftime lead, and the Eagles never recovered.
The story of the game for Glenn Hills was its ability to hit clutch free throws in the fourth quarter. Conley sank 10 of Glenn Hills' 19 free throws in the game in the final period.
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.
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