DALTON, Ga. - Northwest Whitfield coach Greg Brown paced around nervously before his teams' Region 7-AAAA quarterfinal against LaFayette on Wednesday. He looked up at the stands. As it turns out, he was waiting on his wife Carrie -- the assistant coach who just gave birth to their new daughter Friday -- to arrive.
It would also be the most nervous he would be all night.
The Lady Bruins (18-7) forced 24 LaFayette turnovers, and advanced to the semifinals with a 52-19 victory Wednesday at Dalton High School. They will face Pickens Friday at 7, and have clinched a spot in the state playoffs.
Autumn Blackwell hit three 3s and scored 16 points to lead Northwest, but the key to the game was the defensive intensity set forth. The Lady Bruins normally full-court press teams, but Brown backed off when he saw the success his team was having in the half court.
The Lady Ramblers (13-15) hit one field goal -- a putback by Hannah O'Shields six minutes into the third period - and scored a total of four points in the second half, none in the final period of play.
"We did a really good job of keeping them in front," Brown said. "I told our coaches at halftime that we might not full-court press at all in the second half so we don't give up any easy layups."
LaFayette was guilty of 24 turnovers -- 14 in the first half. The Lady Ramblers had an 8-0 second-quarter run that trimmed the lead to four, but by halftime the Lady Bruins were ahead 24-15.
In addition to her point total, Blackwell had six rebounds, six assists and five steals -- all either leading or tied for the team lead. Halle Ford had nine points, five steals and four assists, while Kaitlin Wade had eight points and five rebounds.
"The past three weeks, we've done a good job defensively," Brown said. "Defense will keep you in games; no matter how bad your offense may be, defense will keep you around."
Tava Young finished with eight points and lead LaFayette, while Tori Hunter and Michaela Suttles had 14 and nine rebounds, respectively.