STATE BASKETBALL QUARTERFINALS: Heritage School, Central Christian girls both Final Four bound
- Coweta Score reporter
Saturday, February 16, 2019 By Chris Goltermann Emily Walker was among three Lady Hawks with 9 points, while Pistol Brinson had 16 to lead Central. STATE BASKETBALL QUARTERFINALS: Heritage School, Central Christian girls both Final Four bound
Central Christian's girls basketball program won its 80th straight game in the GICAA, as the three-time defending state champions rolled to an 80-28 victory over Peachtree Academy in the Division II-A quarterfinals at home. The Lady Crusaders had 11 players score in a game where it led 50-6 at halftime. ?Heritage School also won its GISA Class AAA quarterfinal game to return to the Final Four for the first time since capturing a state championship in 2016-17. Olivia Ayers (below) joined teammates Carissa Vazquez and Emily Walker in leading the Lady Hawks with nine points apiece in a 50-40 victory over Frederica. GISA CLASS AAA STATE BRACKET GICAA DIVISION II-A STATE BRACKET PHOTO GALLERY - CENTRAL CHRISTIAN VS. PEACHTREE ACADEMY Heritage School and Central Christian girls basketball teams each powered through to the Final Four in respective leagues on Friday following victories in the GISA and GICAA quarterfinals. The Lady Hawks are back in the GISA semifinals after a year’s absence after pushing past upset-minded Frederica Academy 50-40. Frederica, the No. 4 seed from Region 2, knocked off Region 4 champion John Milledge to reach the second round of the 16-team GISA state tournament. Central Christian, meanwhile, didn’t sniff a challenge from Peachtree Academy of Covington while upping its four-year winning streak to 80 games. The Lady Crusaders matched that number in points during an 80-28 victory, scoring their first 11 before Peachtree Academy could get on the scoreboard. The three-time defending GICAA Division II-A champions, now 18-0 in 2018-19, now head back to this year’s Final Four, hosted by Truett McConnell, as a favorite to again add to its string of state titles. Heritage School (20-5) returns to the GISA Final Four for the first time since winning the 2016-17 Class AAA crown, with five seniors helping lead the way for longtime head coach D.J. Clay. The Lady Hawks will face Region 2 champion Pinewood in Thursday’s semifinals at Georgia Southwestern, which will host this year’s GISA Final Four after previously the site of Elite 8 games. Game time for Heritage and Pinewood is set for 6:30 p.m. The two schools also met in the 2016-17 semifinals in a game won by Heritage 41-27 on its way to a title while led by four seniors including current North Georgia sophomore Kara Groover. Defending Class AAA champion Holy Spirit, which won its second straight Region 1 title this year, faces Region 3 champion Southland in the other girls semifinal matchup. The GISA finals are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 23 at 6:40 p.m. In its quarterfinal victory at Stratford Academy in Macon, Heritage matched Frederica basket for basket in an uptempo opening quarter that ended in an 18-18 deadlock. Clay’s lineup pulled ahead for good in the second while clamping down defensively on Lady Knights standout Jadyn Scott after scoring 11 of Frederica’s first 18 points. Scott was held scoreless in the second, managing just one field goal over the final 24 minutes. After taking a slim 27-24 lead into halftime, the Lady Hawks spread 16 points in the third among five players that contributed field goals, getting a pair from senior Tricia Underwood, and one each from seniors Carissa Vazquez and Emily Cushing. Emily Walker and Aaliyah Ferrill also scored in the third as Heritage took a 43-35 lead into the final period. Cushing, Vazquez, Walker and junior Olivia Ayers each had a pair of baskets in the opening quarter. Heritage limited Frederica to just a pair of baskets in the fourth in the Lady Knights’ lowest output of any quarter while finishing out the win. A balanced effort offensively had Ayers, Walker and Vazquez each leading the team with nine points. Cushing added seven points and Ferrell and Underwood each finished with six. Kendall Stephens added four among seven scorers for the Lady Hawks. Central Christian’s victory was never in doubt, dominating from the opening tip in a clinic that had head coach Justin Stephens swapping out five starters for his next five without skipping a beat offensively. The Lady Crusaders had 11 players score in the victory led by Pistol Brinson’s 16 points. Rachel Johnson and Ana Carter added 11 and 10, respectively. Central led 23-4 after one quarter and then limited Peachtree Academy to just two points in the second while taking a commanding 50-6 lead into halftime. Madison Morge added a pair of three-pointers in the first half, with the Lady Crusaders finishing with five in the victory. Central advances to play the winner between Region 1 champion Grace Christian and Nathanael Greene Academy on Friday, Feb. 22, at 8:30 p.m., as the tournament shifts to Truett McConnell.