Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

March 1, 2014

Taking it easy

Battle-tested Vikettes resting up for semifinal test with Tigers

VALDOSTA — In the days leading up to Lowndes' first semifinals appearance in 13 years the most productive thing the Vikettes could do with their time was nothing at all.

"We've actually been determined to rest some legs," said Vikettes coach Brittany Ferguson. "At this point in the season, you know what you know. At this point you just have to execute and play hard."

Unranked Lowndes defeated Hillgrove and Marietta in thrilling fashion this past week to advance to the Class AAAAAA semifinal round where it faces No. 2 Archer at 3 p.m.

On Wednesday, the Vikettes stormed back from eight down in the fourth quarter to defeat the Blue Devils in overtime, just two days after knocking off the No. 4 Hawks 78-77, also in overtime.

"When you play two games like that in one week you've just got to get off your feet," said Ferguson.

Lowndes has been the biggest surprise of the 2014 GHSA playoffs thus far.

The Vikettes were one of only two unranked teams to reach the quarterfinals, and after eliminating the Blue Devils, Lowndes stands alone in that aspect.

Three straight road wins in the Region 1-AAAAAA tournament earned Lowndes a No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Those home games have been paramount to the Vikettes' success, but now they'll have to readjust to life on the road — the semifinals will be held at Georgia Tech.

"We've had a big home-court advantage for three straight games and that’s a huge luxury that you can't underestimate," said Ferguson. "Now we've got to get back on the bus."

Ferguson feels her team can use this season experience on the road and in tight games to their advantage in Atlanta.

"The way we get over that challenge is that we've got  the confidence of going down to Brunswick three times in one week, we had to win each game, we had to fight them, so we've had the best of both worlds," said Ferguson. "I think they're already equipped with the experience, we've got some close games under our belts.

"I mean, I think they've got every type of experience you can get out of this season. Even though it might look bad throughout the season, it's really paying off for us right now."

Lowndes is 8-1 this season on a neutral court this season thanks in part to star forward Tashia Brown.

Brown has been fantastic throughout the season and even better in the playoffs. The senior has been at her best when the pressure is on; in the final two minutes of Lowndes' win against Marietta, Brown nailed a 3-pointer while being fouled along with the free throw to complete the four-point play and tie the game.

Then with just nine seconds left, trailing by three, Brown sank three consecutive free throws to send the game into overtime.

The Vikettes will need another great effort from Brown, as well as contributions from teammates such as Taffany Smith, Di'era DeLoatch, and Tierra Barnes to defeat the 28-3 Tigers.

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