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Season ends for Lady Doggs

POSTED: February 19, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Winder-Barrow's Tierra Mayweather blocks Lady Elephant Paisley Lee during Monday's loss. The Mayweather sisters combined for 15 points, with Tierra earning seven to Shea's team-leading eight.

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For the Winder-Barrow varsity women’s basketball team (9-16, 5-11 Region 8-AAAAA), the season ended where it began Monday night as the sixth-seed Bulldoggs lost to Gainesville’s Lady Red Elephants (20-7, 12-4 Region 8-AAAAA), the third seed in the tournament, 44-27.

Neither team had much in the way of offense for the first seven minutes of the game, as both teams nearly left the first quarter locked in a 4-0 Gainesville lead, but the Lady Doggs and Elephants combined for 11 points of offense in the final 40.9 of the quarter. Senior Lady Dogg Jasmine Lyles earned her team’s first points shooting 1-for-2 on a pair of free throws.

Gainesville’s Kabree Randolph responded in a big way, though, as she hit the first of Gainesville’s two quick three-point baskets at 17.0. Winder-Barrow’s Shea Mayweather, also a senior and lead scorer for the Lady Doggs Monday night with eight points, dropped in a layup on what she assumed would be the last shot of the quarter with just five seconds on the clock, but Gainesville’s Tamia Rucker hit a miracle three at the buzzer from half-court.

"A few of our shots weren’t going down. That could’ve maybe helped us break the hump mentally a little bit," Winder-Barrow varsity women’s basketball coach Brandon Thomas believed. "One of Hannah’s shots was in-and-out…and they bank one in at the end of the quarter. A couple of those things go differently, it might be 17-12 at halftime, and I think that mentally makes a lot of a difference as well."

The Lady Doggs would net the first points of the second quarter when Adrianna Davis hit her only field goal of the night just 1:15 in, but the Lady Elephants would close out the half on a 12-0 run, culminating in a last shot by Paisley Lee with 5.0 until the buzzer. Winder-Barrow only managed five shots on the goal in the second quarter while the Lady Elephants gathered 15 shots from the field.

"The turnovers were brutal," Thomas pointed out. "It was a lot. And it wasn’t just that they weren’t falling…we weren’t getting good possessions. We weren’t getting good looks to put the pressure on them, and we couldn’t handle the pressure.

"You either rise to the occasion or you lose."

As downtrodden as the Lady Doggs seemed in the first half, they stayed even with Gainesville’s Lady Elephants in the second, matching their opponent with 22 total points each. Winder-Barrow even sustained a 7-0 run over a period of just 90 seconds in the third quarter, capped off by Tiera Mayweather three.

"They came out in zone in the second half, and they didn’t need to," Thomas explained. "We’ve actually executed better against zone in the second half of the season."

Unfortunately, matching your opponent will not help you come back from a 17-point deficit. Gainesville’s leading scorer, Shikiya Brown with nine points, did not make a shot until the second half, either.

Most of Gainesville’s defense centered around keeping Lyles under pressure, and to that end they succeeded. Spending most of the night double-teamed and triple-teamed, Lyles only managed three points in the contest, all from free throws.

"She’s one of the few people we have who is more comfortable trying to penetrate against pressure, and by double-teaming her now you’re asking players who haven’t evolved to that level yet where they’re a take-it-to-the-rim kind of player," Thomas admitted. "We’re limited in our talent. That’s why we’ve won 10 and they’ve won 20.

"That’s what a team will do, take you away from what you’re best at."

Thomas admitted, though, that a couple of players stepped up and did what was asked of them in a difficult situation.

"Hannah [Easterling] does a couple of things she hasn’t done all year. She penetrated and dished it back outside to Adrianna [Davis]," Thomas explained. "You see Hannah do that in the last game of the season, and that’s good, but that’s something we could’ve used had she developed faster."

Although the loss ended Winder-Barrow’s season, Coach Thomas spoke highly of his girls and their effort over the last few months.

At the beginning of the year, Thomas and the team laid out a list of goals they hoped to accomplish by the season’s end. The first goal was to win more than five region games. The second was to win ten games overall. Both of these goals were accomplished, which is an astounding improvement for a team that had only won a single region game in the previous year.

"We had a visual we put in the locker room, a picture of a ladder, and we said we wanted to climb the ladder," Thomas explained.

At the top of the ladder, though, were a few missed goals. The Lady Doggs had hoped to finish off with a winning record, something they fell three or four games short of. They also hoped to make the state tournament, a goal they finished one game short of.

Lastly, the highest goal on Thomas’ ladder is to win a region championship.

"I think it’s important to set realistic goals and try to meet them…and I think we set them pretty accurately," Thomas pointed out. "That’s way up there and we’d have to accomplish a few other things before we get there, but you still have to shoot for those big goals."

The Lady Doggs should return a talented group of underclassmen next season, as they say goodbye to just three seniors. For those three seniors, though; Lyles, Shea Mayweather and Hope Gordy, it was hard to say goodbye.

"This is my third year here, so I’ve had them a little longer," Thomas noted. "We let them know how much we appreciate them after the game. They did some of the things that we set out to reach and they set the tone for next year’s senior class to pick it up a little bit.

"I told them I was proud of them."



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