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Screven tears past Tide

SYLVANIA — The Screven County Lady Gamecocks proved to be too much for the visiting Lady Blue Tide of Long County, advancing to the second round of the GHSA Class AA state playoffs with a 67-36 Friday night victory.
    Nerves got the best of Screven County as it started the contest away from its game plan, missing five of its first six shots from the field and allowing Long County to take an early 6-2 lead in the first two minutes.
    “I expected some nerves,” said SCHS head coach Jennifer Acree. “Even though we have (played in the first round state game) four times in four years, the girls still get nervous. That is why I didn’t get afraid or call a timeout. They’ve just got to play though it.”
    Once Screven was able to calm down, they started running their game plan — getting the ball underneath to forwards Kadedra Evans and LeAnna Mills.
    “Judging from the film I got on Long County, they didn’t do a very good job defending inside post players, so I knew coming in that Kadedra would have a very good game,” said Acree.
    As soon as the Gamecocks started attacking from underneath, they were able to take control. Evans and Mills combined for Screven’s first seven points and SCHS was able to keep Long from scoring in the remainder of the first quarter.
    Taking a 12-6 lead into the second quarter, the Gamecocks hit their stride. After the early six-point run, Screven was able to hold the Blue Tide scoreless until the 5:14 mark in the second quarter when Angela Ashley took a pass from teammate Shareka Turner and sank a layup ending a 7:46 scoreless drought.
    Screven finished the first half shooting 40 percent from the field and sinking 6 of 11 from the free throw line. The Gamecocks out-rebounded Long County 20-12 in the first half and used the Blue Tide’s 17 turnovers to their advantage as they took a 31-15 lead into halftime. Evans finished the half with 19 points and eight rebounds, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
    “I’m used to it,” said Evans. “I’ve been the go-to girl for four years, so I want it now. I am ready to score and get to the (state championship) game.”
    The second half was more of the same for Acree and her Gamecocks. The third quarter started with Evans and Symphony White combining for 10 of the first 11 second half points, and Evans added two assists and a block along the way. White finished the game with 12 points and three assists, and Evans added a double-double (23 points, 11 rebounds) and four assists.
    The speedy and aggressive attack Long County designed to penetrate Screven’s man-to-man press could not produce enough offense to compete, and the tenacious press of the Gamecocks forced 32 turnovers on the night. The Blue Tide was outscored 36-21 in the second half and Screven coasted into the second round of the playoffs with the 67-36 victory.
    Screven County will travel to the Albany Civic Center on Thursday to take on the winner of the Dodge County — Cook contest.
    “We are on the good side of the bracket,” said Acree. “(If) we get two wins in Albany, we will be back in the final four, and I feel very confident. Actually, I feel more confident about this team than I did about last year.”

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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