TUNNEL HILL, Ga. - In the process of winning their Class AAAA basketball state playoff opener Friday, the Northwest Whitfield Lady Bruins imparted two valuable lessons to those watching.
1) Patience is a virtue.
2) When Mallory Souther is open on the wing, get her the ball.
Following an ugly second quarter that coach Greg Brown essentially sacrificed for the sake of the greater good, Lady Bruins senior Souther buried four 3-pointers in the second half as the home team ended Carrollton's season with a 61-48 win. Pending the late result, the Lady Bruins (24-4) expect to face formidable Redan in the second round Monday.
Early on, to keep his big guns fresh for the second half, Brown occasionally put five on the floor that the quick and aggressive Lady Trojans attacked like a snack tray. It didn't help that his big presence inside, Peyton Maret, had foul trouble all night long and played less than a quarter.
"That's been our thing all year," Brown admitted. "Our depth is our strength, so we were playing as many people as we could in the first half. In second half, we hope to wear down our opponent, and we started showing that again tonight."
Working the ball around despite man-to-man pressure, the Lady Bruins -- especially senior point guard Halle Ford -- frequently found uncontested layups, but more importantly, freed their gunners for eight 3s. Three of Souther's four in her 15-point game came consecutively as part of a 13-0 run that turned the game for keeps.
But Ford's night was nothing short of brilliant: 17 points, eight assists, five steals.
"She's a four-year starter, our area player of the year, I expect," Brown said, "and the best thing about her is that she wants the ball in that situation."
Seven of Ford's points came in the fourth quarter, all on free throws as Carrollton (22-7) tried to foul to catch up. Few teams have beaten Northwest that way, and Friday the Lady Bruins were 17-of-21 from the line.
One potential problem was the loss of Maret, but Brown praised the effort of sophomore Mary Kate Allen, who came off the bench to claim seven rebounds.
"But Peyton did a very good job in the short time she was in there, especially late in the game," Brown said, noting her six points.
Macy Weeks scored 10 for the Lady Bruins. Carrollton got 16 from Brooklyn Emery and 11 from Tatyana Johnson.
Contact David Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org