LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — The Spalding Lady Jags raced to a big lead then held on late for a 48-39 win over the Jackson Lady Red Devils in the quarterfinals of the Region 4-AAA Tournament Thursday afternoon at Locust Grove High.
With the win, the Lady Jags improve to 19-5 and they qualified for the Class AAA state playoffs for the second straight year. It was the third time they beat Jackson (18-8) this season.
“It feels good to make state again,” said Spalding senior Shakeva Richards, who finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks. "Now we can focus on making a run through the region and through state."
Spalding will now face the winner of Friday’s Jackson-Atlanta/Mary Persons-So. Atlanta game on Saturday at 6 p.m. here.
Spalding got off to a quick start, bolting to a 9-0 lead. A Shay Williams 3-pointer in the first quarter and a Chasity Lawrence 3-point play in the second helped Spalding take a 21-16 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Dee Dee Matthews’ 7 points and team defensive pressure helped Spalding get its biggest lead of the game at 33-20 with 1:09 left.
Jackson senior Yishica Sims caught fire in the fourth, scoring 7 straight points to cut Spalding’s lead to 37-30 with 5:00 left. A trey from Jackson’s Sha’ron Forte a minute later cut the deficit to five at 38-33. Spalding then forced a turnover and Matthews made a fast-break layup and was fouled. She converted the 3-point play to put Spalding up 41-33 and the Lady Jags made 7-of-8 free throws the rest of the way to seal the game.
“We want to be region champs this year,” said Williams, a senior who finished with 7 points. “We just have to make sure we keep up the intensity. It's up to me and Kiara [Smith] as the point guards to make sure our team runs smoothly."
Matthews and Kiara Smith finished with 11 points each for Spalding.