Chase Wallace | Special to The Times
The Valdosta Daily Times
After a promising start to its Class AAAAAA state semifinal at Georgia Tech, foul trouble spelled an end to Lowndes’ state championship dreams.
Outscored 67-48 over the final three quarters, the Vikettes’ Cinderella season ended with a 78-67 defeat to Archer at McCamish Pavilion.
“Foul trouble killed us all game long,” said Lowndes coach Brittany Ferguson, who saw three of her starters foul out in the game, and two more finish with four fouls each. “There were some questionable calls in there, but we hacked their big kids a few times too.
“When it comes down to it we didn’t box out well enough either and didn’t play well enough to beat a great team.”
The loss spoiled a marvelous career-ending game for star senior Tashia Brown. Brown connected on five 3-pointers in the game while posting a game-high 30 points, all despite collecting her third foul just 90 seconds into the second quarter.
“She was magnificent, battling fouls all game but showing so much heart and toughness until the end,” said Ferguson of the Western Kentucky-bound Brown. “It’s only now starting to set in that I won’t have the privilege of being her coach anymore.”
Lowndes ran out to a 19-11 first-quarter lead behind 10 points from Brown, but her third foul came early in the second quarter and sent her to the bench. Archer responded with an 18-2 run through the first five minutes of the quarter.
Brown returned to the court with just less than three minutes left in the half, connected on a pair of 3s and a layup to bring Lowndes within 33-30 at the break.
Using a distinct height advantage in the post and a number of quick whistles in the final two quarters, Archer pounded the ball inside and paraded to the free throw line for much of the second half.
The Tigers went 25-of-43 from the charity stripe in the game, led by 19-of-27 shooting from Madison Newby. Newby finished with 29 points.
Trailing 55-45 at the end of three quarters, Lowndes briefly cut the Archer lead to eight with just less than two minutes left when Taffany Smith connected on a pair of free throws — but never drew closer en route to a 78-67 final.
The loss ended a sensational playoff run for an unranked Lowndes team, who qualified for the state semifinals for the first time in 13 years. Ferguson said she hopes the playoff success is a precursor to more tournament success in the future.
“This run just shows what Lowndes basketball is capable of, we’re a team that is supposed to be on this big stage and we plan on getting back here again.”
Smith finished the game 14 points, including two 3-pointers and a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line.
Freshman center Autumn Newby scored 19 points for Archer, Amber Skidgell added 10.
Archer will play in the Class AAAAAA state championship next Saturday at the Macon Centerplex.