THOMASVILLE, Ga. -- It didn't take Lynn Brantley long to assess the damage the flu has caused her Josey girls basketball team over the past two weeks.
Starting guard Michelle Drumgold failed to make the trip, and several starters were limited in practice this week. Makes you wonder what the Lady Eagles can do when they finally get healthy.
Josey harassed Westover's Lady Patriots with stiff defense early in the game, built a big halftime lead and cruised to an easy 51-32 victory in the first round of the state tournament Saturday. The Lady Eagles advance to the Class AAA state sectionals Friday at Jones County High. They will face defending state champion Woodward Academy at 8:30 p.m.
Glenn Hills' boys went cold from the field in the second quarter and were eliminated by Monroe 47-42. In other games, Statesboro's girls held off Cairo 42-38.
The Lady Eagles jumped all over Westover, scoring the first three times they touched the ball. When Martina Sapp keyed a 12-0 run over the final 2:32 of the first quarter, Westover never challenged again.
"(Playing) a zone early really helped us get a couple of points early," said Josey's Sabrina Hawthorne, who led the Lady Eagles with 11 points. "It didn't matter who (played) in the game, they came in and did what everybody else did."
The Lady Eagles built a 22-7 first-quarter lead, then Brantley emptied her bench throughout the remainder of the contest. Josey's defense was so aggressive during the first half that Westover had almost as many turnovers (12) as they did points (16) at halftime.
"We weren't as effective as we should have been but I thought the girls made up for it by hustling," Brantley said. "We wanted to win, but we didn't want to annihilate anyone."
Kenya Thompkins' three-point play with 1:11 left in the third made it 42-22. Then two straight baskets from Erika Lewis to open the final period gave Josey its biggest lead of the game at 48-25 with 6:31 left.
Things would have gotten worse if the Lady Eagles could have converted its free throws. Josey shot just 11-of-24 from the free-throw line in the game.
Things weren't as bright for Glenn Hills' boys, who couldn't rally in the final minutes to overcome Monroe.
"We had our opportunities; we just weren't able to cash in on them," said Glenn Hills coach Richard Wallace, whose team ends its season at 13-13. "But I was pleased with our effort. You always want to win every game, but the kids played hard."
The Spartans had control of the game throughout most of the first half, getting Monroe leading scorer and Georgia signee Chris Daniels in foul trouble. Without the 6-foot-7 center in the game, the Spartans took advantage and built a 25-17 lead at halftime.
But a 10-2 Monroe run over the first 3:44 of the third quarter tied the game at 27, while the Tornado defense held Glenn Hills to just six points in the third quarter to grab the lead for good.
"We stayed in our 1-2-2 matchup, but we didn't do a good job shooting," Wallace said.
Monroe built a 36-31 lead in the fourth quarter only to watch Glenn Hills rally to cut the lead to 42-41 with 1:15 left on a layup from Gary Conley.
Daniels sank two free throws to make it 45-42 with 1:06 left but the Sprtans still had a chance to win the game. However, the Spartans missed their final three shots from the floor. Two more free throws from Daniels with 14 seconds left put the game on ice.
"A break here and a break there, that's how you win games," Wallace said. "In a close game, if you get breaks you normally pull it out. But if you don't capitalize on your opportunities, you usually come up short."
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.