COLLEGE PARK — Head coach LaToya Brown led her Luella Lady Lions (21-4) into the first round of the Region 4-AAAA girls basketball tournament at North Clayton High School Monday riding a five-game winning streak.
Their opening opponent was a familiar one, as they had just handled the Hampton Lady Hornets (8-17) on Friday night with a 53-41 road win. With a stifling full-court pressure defense, they got off to a quick start and cruised into the second round with a 55-33 victory.
“It’s always tough beating teams three or four times in a season, but we came in focused and played hard, we got the job done,” Brown admitted of the challenge playing the same team back-to-back.
The Lady Lions full-court trap defense is athletic, aggressive and in your face from the inbound pass through the entire possession.
They started the game on a mission and when Breyell Mobley drained a three over the Hampton 2-3 zone, they had a 13-2 lead with two minutes left in the first quarter. Asked what she told the team before the game, Coach Brown said, “It’s that time of year, we have been here before, we understand its win or go home, and that is enough motivation to for them to start strong.”
After falling behind by twelve at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Hornets played their best basketball of the night as they fought back into the contest and after Chyrauah Wyatt found Amaiya Siler open in the paint for an easy basket, Hampton had gotten the deficit out of double-digits. Siler also used her size underneath to block and alter some of the early Lady Lion shots.
However, Luella was just too much as Tazia Freeman lead the way, she hit five three-pointers, including two in the third quarter when they pulled away. She finished with a game-high 20 points while Keely Brown added 14.
Siler led the Lady Hornets with ten and Jazlyn Sharper chipped in nine. Head Coach Molly Tideback saw her team improve their win total from last year and had a couple of impressive wins, including AAAAAAA opponent East Coweta and region foe Eastside. Look for them to continue to improve.
With the game in hand, Coach Brown was able to rest her starters some and get her bench some needed experience for the grueling weeks of tournament action ahead. Thirteen different ladies got into the game, and nine found their way into the scorebook with points.
“I got an opportunity to play some of my JV babies, we might need them down the line, so it’s good to get them some playing time in this type of environment,” Brown said.
With the win, the Lady Lions will be back in action Thursday against the Druid Hills Lady Red Devils (12-13), who played the Lady Lions tough until the end just two weeks ago, as Luella held on for a 55-51 victory. With the much-anticipated rematch against the Henry County Lady Warhawks on the horizon, Coach Brown and her team understand, it’s one game at a time.