Dewayne Watkins knew the game was coming, and the veteran Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School girls' basketball coach knew Friday night's opponent, Coahulla Creek, was capable.
What he's not sure of, though, is how his team will respond after holding off the Lady Colts, 68-65, at LFO.
This is a Lady Warriors team that, on its way to a 14-0 overall record and 6-0 in Region 6-AAA, had regularly blistered opponents. In fact, only one region game heading into Friday had been decided by fewer than 30 points.
Coahulla Creek (9-7, 5-2), however, withstood the usual hot LFO start to take a 37-36 lead into halftime as the program's career leading scorer, Brinkley Kate Reed, had 17 of her game-high 20 points in the opening half.
"They are just a well-coached team," said Watkins, whose team recently won its second consecutive Best of Preps tournament title. "They are about 10 deep and they make you defend them at every position. We had a lot of foul trouble on key players early, and that changed the direction of the game. We are happy with the win, but we know we must improve our defense if we are going to achieve our goals."
LFO responded in the third quarter, clamping down on Reed and letting Christina Collins go to work. She scored seven points in the period as the Lady Warriors regained the lead, 55-50.
The Lady Colts, with Reed getting extra attention, turned to Shea Poe, who scored 14 points in the final eight minutes. The rest of the team, however, managed only one point as LFO held on.
"I believe 68 points is enough to win 95% of the time in high school basketball, but we must do a better job on defense moving on," Watkins said. "Our core defense is not as good as last year, but the potential to be better than last year is there. My job is to help us focus on the big picture."
Angel Simmons added 15 points and Ziara Thompson 13 for LFO.
STARS OF THE NIGHT
Avary Brewer, Bradley Central: The sophomore sharpshooter was 7-of-11 from 3-point range to finish with a career-high 29 points in a 76-38 win at Walker Valley.
Carlee Lowry, Signal Mountain: The Lady Eagles surged to a 54-50 overtime victory against East Hamilton thanks to Lowry's dominance in the paint during a 33-point performance.
Matthew Sharpe, Central: The junior guard led the Purple Pounders to a 71-54 victory over Soddy-Daisy as he showcased his three-level scoring ability with 25 points.
Dylan Faulkner, Calhoun: Two games removed from a 30-30 double-double, the senior forward had 25 points as the Yellow Jackets moved to 2-0 in Region 7-AAAAA with a 68-44 win over Woodland-Bartow.
Mattie Nuckolls, Murray County: She posted 14 points and nine rebounds as the Lady Indians improved to 12-4 overall and 6-0 in Region 6-AAA with a 63-30 win over North Murray.
Kaleb Gallman, Heritage: The sophomore guard scored 29 points, including 15 on 3-pointers, as the Generals improved to 2-1 in Region 7-AAAA with a 62-49 win over Northwest Whitfield.
Adarius Brewer, East Hamilton: The sophomore guard stepped up to score half of the Hurricanes' 24 points in the third quarter in a 69-49 victory over Signal Mountain.
Kelsie Johnson, Silverdale Baptist: The junior scored 19 of her 23 points in the first half to lead a 70-27 rout over Grace Academy.
Kimora Fields, Bradley Central: The freshman forward scored 21 points while adding eight rebounds, five assists and five steals to help the Bearettes improve to 18-0.
Trevor Carpenter, Bradley Central: The senior guard scored a game-high 23 points to help deny a fourth-quarter surge by Walker Valley in the Bears' 59-56 victory.