|Only Red Devilettes can grab host role
|Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 6:44 am
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
To the victors go the spoils.
Both the South Fulton girls and Greenfield boys earned homecourt advantages for the first round of the upcoming District 14A Tournament with critical victories in their respective final league games of the season Friday night.
The Devilette girls sewed up the No. 3 spot with a 37-29 victory over G’field, while the Yellowjackets earned the fourth seed on the boys’ side with a 58-48 triumph over SF in the nightcap.
A meeting of 14A coaches today was to finalize the bracket for the tournament, which will begin Feb. 13-14 at satellite sites before moving to Trenton for the semifinals and finals.
The South Fulton girls (15-9, 8-6) — who have overcome the loss of starting point guard Laken Haley, who quit the team in December, and an eye injury to leading scorer Talleah Cross that recently cost her three games — won the head-to-head tie-breaker for third place after sweeping Greenfield in the season series.
Savannah Larson scored 13 points for the Devilettes in the second of those wins Friday, including nine straight during one juncture, while the Lady ’Jackets (16-8, 8-6) were struggling miserably with their shooting touch.
In Game 2, Heath Crouse was unstoppable in a one-man show for G’field (11-11, 6-8), erupting for 37 points in a splendid display that helped the visitors lock up a tourney home game against Peabody — a team that defeated the ’Jackets twice in the regular season.
The Redmen, meanwhile, simply failed to make shots and fell into a tie for sixth with Halls and Bradford.
Early projections have SF (10-14, 4-10) playing at Union City in Round 1.
Both Red Devil teams will play three times against non-14A foes in the upcoming final week of the regular season — at Gleason tonight, at home vs. twin-cities rival Fulton City on Tuesday and against Hickman County Friday.
SF 37, Greenfield 29 (G)
With Cross and Kalon Martin — the Devilettes’ top two point producers on the season tallying just eight points apiece — Larson stepped up and assumed a greater offensive role.
She made a deuce and then a trey just before the halftime buzzer to give SF a 17-13 lead at the intermission, then sank a bucket and two foul shots in the first two minutes of the third stanza to widen the difference to 21-13.
And after Greenfield had slowly crawled as close as 28-26 with 4:40 to play after made 3-pointers by Kalee Kesterson, Rachel Roberts and Haley Rawls, Larson thwarted that rally with a trey-ball of her own to make it a five-point game at the 4:10 mark.
The ’Lady Jackets never got closer than four thereafter, with Cross making two foul shots and both Sydney Easterwood and Larson one each in the final 42 seconds to complete a 9-of-13 free throw shooting night for South Fulton.
“When Talleah (Cross) went out and missed those games with the eye problem, I just asked the girls to step up,” winning coach Curt Lee said afterward. “I didn’t ask any of them to be superstars, I just stressed that someone needed to fill the void while she was out.
“We’ve had some different folks do that on different nights, and even though she’s (Cross) back with us now, Savannah stepping up tonight was a good example of us getting some offensive contribution from somebody other than the ones who usually score for us.
“We didn’t necessarily play that well tonight, but I’m tickled to death that we did enough things right to get the third seed and get the chance to play at home in the tournament. We made a couple of good defensive stands there late, and we made some free throws that were critical.”
Greenfield 58, SF 48 (B)
Though J.P. Fowler gave a spirited effort guarding Crouse for a brief time in a reserve role, no other Red Devil could handle Crouse.
The G’field standout swingman, who tallied 42 in an earlier game this season, had quarter scores of 12, 8, 7 and 10 points for the Jackets, who went ahead early in the second quarter and never again trailed.
Among Crouse’s highlights were a falling-down circus shot just before the halftime buzzer that put his team up 28-23 and eight made foul shots in the fourth period when Greenfield hit 14-of-17 from the charity stripe.
SF, meanwhile, cut a double-digit deficit to three points on three different occasions in the fourth quarter, but could never make a big shot when it counted most. No Red Devil scored in twin figures for the game.
“We got back in the game and then had four straight trips where we didn’t score,” an obviously-frustrated South Fulton coach Wes Miller said afterward. “We’re not tough mentally or physically. We got into the lane several times and simply just couldn’t make a shot.
“We single-handedly put Crouse in college tonight with the way we couldn’t stop him.”
The Devils, who also missed 10 free throws in the game, first got within three points down the stretch on a bucket from Harrison Hawks and another from Keshawn McManus. Down 48-44, though, with just under three minutes left, SF scored just twice more the rest of the way and saw Greenfield post a 6-0 run to build the difference back to 10.
Hawks, McManus, Jordan Davis and Tevaris James scored eight apiece for the Big Red.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.6.12