(Atlanta, GA) — The Lady Braves’ 2017-2018 basketball season ended with a heartbreaking 53-49 overtime loss at KIPP Atlanta Collegiate Friday night.
The win for the Warriors would not come easy as the No. 3 seeded Lady Braves (11-16, 8-5) from Region 5-AA fought tooth and nail with the No. 2 seed from the Atlanta city schools Region 6-AA.
In fact, despite trailing for 29 of the 32 regulation minutes, the Lady Braves would storm back from a nine point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a 45-44 lead with just over a minute to play on two crucial free throws by junior Haley Bennett.
Morgan Kay added another foul shot to extend the lead to 46-44 lead with just seconds to play before Mekindia Martin of the Warriors would sink two foul shots to send the game to the overtime period.
The Lady Braves would unfortunately manage just a three pointer from senior Sage Kelley in an overtime that saw the Warriors (14-12, 10-4) outscore the visiting team 7-3 and and shoot seven more foul shots than the Lady Braves.
Freshman Sophia Long had 12 points in Friday night’s OT playoff loss at KIPP Atlanta (Photo: Jessica Gallagher/Times-Georgian)
Freshman Sophia Long had a big effort for Coach Helen Akins’ squad leading the scoring with 12 points along with Bennett.
Other top scorers included Tori Caldwell with eight, Kay with six, and Sydney Gay with four.
Each team had 20 fouls and each team lost a starter to foul trouble late in the game.
“This group of girls just never wanted to accept the fact that they were too small (or perceived to be too small) and would not be successful — they just refused to bow down to that and battled in each and every game this season,” said Coach Akins about her team after the loss.
She is proud of the team and realizes that success is measured by more than just the results on the court.
“Sometimes you just don’t measure the success of a team in the win-loss column. I look at these girls and they fought their tails off in every single game they played this year,” adds Akins. “I just love these kids and they just love each other. They really are just a little family.”
“These kids got along with one another and genuinely loved being around each other this yea and that just makes my job so much easier. These girls have built bonds that they will share for the rest of their lives by doing so many good things that nobody thought they could do.”
Akins will miss her three seniors as the team looks forward to the 2019 season.
“Sage Kelley has just been the backbone of this program since she walked in the door as a freshman. She literally never missed a practice or a game in her four years. She wasn’t always a vocal leader but she really stepped up in that role this season when we needed her to,” said Akins.
“Another senior we will miss is Alexis Nelms. She has always been a vocal leader on our squad and she just put in so much work for us over the last four years. Even when she wasn’t seeing much playing time in her underclassman years she just kept working hard and contributing day in and day out,” adds the fourth year Brave coach.
“We will also miss Emily Iddins tremendously. It is so hard to have to see such a determined and talented young lady miss her entire senior year but she really stuck with us and contributed and was as much a big part of our program this year as she was when she was on the court in past years.”
The Lady Braves will return three more seniors next year in Haley Bennett, Sydney Gay, and Ellie Googe. Other returning Lady Braves include Tori Caldwell, Morgan Kay, Hermonie Garza, and Lynsey Glover who like Iddins missed the entire season with an injury.
The Warriors will travel to Banks County Wednesday for the second round of the playoffs.
In other Region 5-AA vs. Region 6-AA playoff action, No. 1 Lamar County knocked off No. 4 Therrell 52-41, No. 2 Callaway rallied to defeat No. 3 South Atlanta 54-49, and No. 1 Douglas rolled past No. 4 Spencer 67-47.