Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

February 10, 2013

Lady ’Cats finish first in 1-6A

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta girls basketball team wrapped up their first regular season region championship in 11 years with a 56-42 victory over Tift County on Saturday at VHS.

The Lady Wildcats (20-4) and Tift (19-6) both finished with 9-3 records in Region 1-6A play, but Valdosta beat Tift twice, so the Lady Wildcats were named the regular season champions.

“It’s great to finish No. 1 in the region,” Valdosta head coach E.A. Wilcox said. “This is one of the things that you put on the chalkboard (as a goal). The next thing is going to the region tournament and trying to be No. 1. (Now) we want to be region tournament champions.”

The Lady ‘Cats benefited from balanced scoring on Saturday. Stormm Phillips led VHS with 12 points. Taylor Hauser scored 10 points (eight of them in the first quarter), Shaneika Smith had nine, Tiaera Phillips had eight and Terri Oglesby added seven.

“My girls gave it everything they had. They give me everything they have every time they play, especially when it’s a big game,” Wilcox said. “Stormm played good, Tiaera played good, Destiny (Covert) played big, Terri played big, Taylor Hauser knocked down some shots for me, (Kaneshia) Kimbrough played real good defense, Smith played really good defense. LeQuesha (Newkirk) came in and gave me some valuable minutes. Courtney (Baker) came in and did some good things as well. Everybody that played contributed.”

Three minutes into the game, the score was tied 4-4 when Hauser got an open look behind the arc and buried a three-pointer, giving the Lady Wildcats a 7-4 lead. No one knew it at the time, but Valdosta would hold the lead the rest of the game.

Later in the first quarter, Hauser made another three-pointer. Tift’s Dee Dee Deshazer answered with a three-pointer of her own, but Tiaera Phillips banked a shot off the glass as the buzzer sounded, giving the Lady Wildcats a 14-9 lead after one period.

The teams traded baskets for much of the second quarter. Valdosta maintained a five-point lead at halftime, 25-20.

Three times in the first three minutes of the second half, Tift cut Valdosta’s lead down to three points. But each time, the Lady Wildcats answered with a basket.

Valdosta was holding on to a 29-26 lead with about 4:15 left in the third quarter when Stormm Phillips grabbed a rebound, took off down the court on a 2-on-1 fast break and passed the ball to Smith for an easy layup. That started an 8-0 run for the Lady Wildcats, which turned a three-point lead into an 11-point lead, 37-26.

The Lady Wildcats led 40-28 heading into the fourth quarter, and they increased that lead to 15 points, 47-32, with 4:59 left to play. Valdosta held a double digit lead the rest of the game.

Valdosta will be the top seed in next week’s Region 1 tournament, which will be played at VHS. The Lady Wildcats and Tift, the No. 2 seed, both have automatic byes into the semifinals and are guaranteed a spot in the state playoffs.

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