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Greensboro girls upend DHS

If you have plans for Feb. 3, you might want to change them.

That’s the date of the fourth and final regular season edition of what has become a thrilling season series between the Greensboro Lady Raiders and Demopolis Lady Tigers. Greensboro took the upper hand on Demopolis’s home floor Tuesday night, claiming a 47-45 victory that gives them a 2-1 season edge over the defending Southwest Regional champions.

How closely matched have the two teams been? After 96 minutes of regulation play in the series so far, Demopolis and Greensboro are tied on total points at 128 apiece.

But by virtue of their 54-51 overtime victory Dec. 29 and Tuesday night’s win, Greensboro has now taken two of three from the Lady Tigers.

“They’re elated,” says Greensboro coach Frances Dunn of the Lady Raiders. “At one point they thought they’d never beat Demopolis. Now they know they can do it, and know what they have to do.”

As they had done in the previous two meetings, the Lady Raiders jumped out to a first-half lead. Greensboro doubled up Demopolis in the first quarter, 16-8, and continued to harass the home team’s offense as they stretched the lead to 13, 28-15, at the half.

The Lady Tigers crept back into the game in the second half. Behind a more intense defensive effort and solid play inside from Katerria Johnson, who led all scorers with 13 points and pulled in seven rebounds, Demopolis chipped away at the lead and trailed 36-27 after three quarters.

The Lady Tigers continued to cut into the lead, but despite outscoring their guests 18-11 in the final period Greensboro was able to hang on for the win.

“We have to stop digging a hole for ourselves in the first half,” said Demopolis coach Tony Pittman. “It drains you, having to work so hard to get back in the game. You expend so much defensive energy it hurts your offense. We missed shots late in the game we would normally make because we didn’t have the energy.”

Pittman added that in addition to starting poorly, his team needs stronger play from its bench and should “make the extra pass” more often. But he is also proud of how his team fought back after falling behind.

“I applaud their effort to come back in the second half,” he said. “I can’t complain about the effort.”

The Lady Raiders benefited from an impressively balanced attack in which all five scorers–

Shandrille Tabb with 12, Sabrina Hurns, Kara Johnson, and Jacques Winn with 9, and Vanessa Rhodes with 8–were within four points of each other.

“That’s what we work on in practice,” Dunn says. “They learn that if they can’t get one, someone can get one. Someone’s going to be slashing and moving.”

Following Johnson’s 13-point night for Demopolis were Valissa Sams with 7, Jasmine Simmons with 6, Krystal Walker with 6, Kelli Johnson with 6, Shawnese Armstead with 5, and Kierra Plaskett with 2. Sams added seven rebounds while Armstead led the team with six steals.

While Pittman isn’t happy about the loss, he compliments the job Dunn has done and says the tension of the series may help his team in the long run.

“Greensboro has really improved,” he said. “But all three games started out the same way. One game we were able to overcome that. The other two we didn’t.

“It’s been fun, actually. We’ve had three close ball games and it’s exciting to see how our team responds in that situation. So far we haven’t handled it well and that’s something we need to work on.”