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Demopolis girls fly into finals, 56-27

So far, so good.

The Demopolis Lady Tigers started their 2006 playoff run with a bang, barreling into the 4A Area 5 championship game with a 56-28 win over Livingston Thursday night in Demopolis.

The Lady Cougars hung with Demopolis for a quarter, trailing the state’s No. 7 team by only four points, 14-10, at the end of one. But the Demopolis defense took over for the next two periods, allowing Livingston only two second quarter points and only five third quarter points to open up an insurmountable 45-17 lead heading into the fourth.

Demopolis was especially efficient at the start the second half, scoring the first 14 points of the third quarter to stretch their 29-12 halftime lead to 29 points only four minutes in. Shawnese Armstead sparked the run with a three-pointer 27 seconds in, followed by a Krystal Walker basket, a Jasmine Simmons three, and three straight buckets from senior forwards Katerria and Kelli Johnson. Livingston finally broke the run on a Tyrese Mosley basket with 2:24 left in the period, but by then Demopolis had clinched the win.

“The third quarter has been kind of our downfall this season,” said a satisfied Tony Pittman, head coach for the Demopolis girls. “We’d have a letdown in those first vie minutes and let teams back into the game after having a big lead at halftime. But we did play very well in the third quarter and put the game out of reach … The energy we came out with was right where we need to be for the playoffs.”

The forward pairing of Johnson and Johnson led the way for Demopolis, combining for 29 points (15 for Katerria and 14 for Kelli), 24 rebounds, and numerous blocked shots.

“They controlled the post both offensively and defensively,” Pittman said. “That’s what I expect fro mthem and what they shouldexpect from themselves. I told Kelli when she came off the floor, and people were clappin for her, ‘This is where you need to be.’ Katerria is going to be Katerria. Eve nif she’s not scoring, she finds a way to contribute. I was very pleased with the two of them.”

The forwards were followed in the scoring column by Armstead and Simmons with 8 points each, Walker with 6, Loreal Moore with 3, and Aleshia Arnold and Jocelyn Lawson with 1 each.

Livingston was led by Shanika Maye and Consuela Rice with 7 points each. Mosley and Sherita Dunigan each scored 5 points, while Vanquacious Otis and Tandeka Oglesby scored 2 apiece.

With the win, the Lady Tigers clinch at least a berth in the 4A sub-regionals, against a team from Area 1, and will face Thomasville at home Saturday night at 6 p.m. The teams split their regular season meetings as each team won at home, Thomasville by a 48-42 score Dec. 9 and Demopolis 35-27 Jan. 6. Pittman says whichever team commits fewer turnovers and makes the biggest effort o nthe glass will come out on top.

“I’m expecting a very hard-fought ball game,” he says. “It’s going to boil down to whichever team makes the fewest mistakes and controls the boards. Thomasville’s Ebony Early does a great job of getting offensive rebounds and second chance points. We have to block her out and keep her off the offensive glass. If we talk on defense and do what we’ve been coached to do, we’ll be fine.”

Demopolis improved their record to 18-4 overall on the season.

Thomasville 48, Greene County 36

The Thomasville Lady Tigers used a big second quarter to avenge an earlier loss to Greene County and advance to face Demopolis in the Area 5 tournament finals.

After taking a slim 13-10 lead into the second period, Thomasville’s defense held Greene to only 3 second-quarter points while scoring 15 of their own, giving Thomasville a commanding 28-13 lead at halftime.

Despite the efforts of Laprecious Naylon, who finished with 15 points to lead Greene County, Thomasville pulled further away in the third quarter and led by 19, 42-23, entering the fourth.

Naylon was followed by Kendra Smith with 9 points, Shaniece Cockrell with 4, Chereme Gaines with 3, Ashley Bolden and Shynessia Nickson with 2, and Sabrina Hargrove with 1.

Ebony Early’s 21 points and Kenya Martin’s 16 led the way for Thomasville