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February 5, 2014

Lowndes, Coffee split region basketball games

VALDOSTA — Lowndes’ girls and boys basketball teams split their respective games against the Coffee Trojans on Tuesday night when the Vikette's 57-44 victory preceded a 77-71 loss for the Vikings.

Lowndes' girls entered the game with a 14-7 record, including a 4-5 mark in Region 1-AAAAAA play. One of those losses came when the Trojans knocked off the traveling Vikettes 50-45 on Jan. 24.

Sonya Franklin scored 27 points for Coffee that evening and the Trojans' defense held Lowndes to just four third-quarter points to propel them to just their second region win in nine attempts.

But in the comfort of home, the Vikettes flipped the script.

It was a Vikette who dominated Tuesday's matchup, specifically Tashia Brown, scoring 21 points. Lowndes' defense also proved to be suffocating, holding Franklin to just 19 in the second meeting.

The Vikettes controlled the action in the first half using a 2-3 zone to keep the Trojans off-balance offensively.

Coffee had to use crisp passes to have any success penetrating the zone, and with Brown providing an intimidating presence in the middle, Lowndes held the Trojans to just 14 points in the first half en route to a 28-14 lead.

Lowndes looked like a different team defensively and for Vikettes coach Brittany Ferguson, the difference wasn't hard to pinpoint.

"Effort. Just flat-out effort," said Ferguson. "(Franklin) is a very talented player, but when they play, one person shouldn't be able to take on five. When five people play together we should be able to stop one player."

Despite controlling the first half, Lowndes was not immune to another third quarter lull against Coffee.

The Vikettes' offense became stagnant as Lowndes exchanged the early looks inside for sloppy passes and missed layups.

"I do want to give [Coffee] credit defensively, but we have struggled all year in the third quarter," said Ferguson. "It's been our achilles heel for some reason, that's when we've been getting down in games.

“It's more about refocusing our team to stay aggressive and not turn the ball over, to value each possession."

Lowndes scored just six points in the third, just two more than the last Coffee game, only this time the Vikettes clung on to the 34-25 lead going into the final quarter.

While the game remained competitive throughout the fourth, Lowndes' lead was never really threatened as its lead never dipped under six points.

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