GAINESVILLE -- The Chestatee girls basketball team wasn't interested in sulking after last week's region championship loss.
Just four days after watching the 8-AAAA title slip through their grasp, the Lady War Eagles rebounded in impressive fashion on Tuesday, pulling away from Columbus 48-37 in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs in Gainesville.
The Lady War Eagles were one of four area teams to move into the second round of the postseason, joining the Buford, Dawson County and Rabun County girls as winners on the night. (See below for a full list of scores for area teams in the postseason).
Chestatee dominated the first half, including a 15-0 run, and answered a third quarter charge from the Blue Devils to book a fourth trip to the second round of the postseason in five seasons.
"They've been here before; they knew they didn't play well against Madison County (in the region championship game), and they wanted to come out here and get past that," Lady War Eagles coach Web Daniel said. "They didn't want any regrets; they didn't want to leave anything on the table."
In fact, once removed from the emotion of last week's runner-up finish in 8-AAAA, Daniel saw that the No. 2 seed wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
"We knew we had a good match-up with Columbus," Daniel said. "They're a good team, but we saw some things could be advantageous for us."
Maegan Kenimer proved a big part of that advantage for Chestatee (23-5). The senior post helped key the Lady War Eagles' second quarter domination and then added eight points in the fourth quarter to seal a spot in the second round. Kenimer finished with a game-high 20 points.
Erin Clifford also provided some offensive spark for Chestatee, scoring 10 points, including three 3-pointers -- part of five treys on the night for the Lady War Eagles. The senior's final 3-pointer came right before halftime and capped a 15-0 Lady War Eagles' run that broke open a 13-13 tie.
"She told me before the game, 'coach, I've got at least three-four 3-pointers in me tonight,' " Daniel said of Clifford. "And those shots were big for us."
Yet the Blue Devils (20-10) made some big shots of their own in the third quarter, piecing togther a 12-0 spurt on baskets and free throws by Keke Gunter and Khayla Lloyd -- who led Columbus with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Yet even when Gunter sank one of two free throw attempts with 35 seconds left in the third quarter to pull within 30-26 the Lady War Eagles refused to panic and turned back to Kenimer.
The senior sank two free throws of her own at the end of the third and followed that with back-to-back lay-ups early in the fourth quarter to establish a 38-28 cushion with 5:55 left to play.
"We kind of played timid there in the third quarter; we didn't shoot the ball," said Daniel after watching his team score four points in the quarter. "We had a lead and we wanted to take good shots, but we weren't taking any shots. Then we got some rebounds, pushed the ball and got some lay-ups and that really helped us."
Chestatee went without a rebound for much of the third quarter, as Columbus nabbed seven and also forced seven turnovers to help force its way back into the contest. But the Lady War Eagles out-rebounded the Blue Devils 7-3 the rest of the way and did not yield a single turnover in the fourth quarter. Chestatee also proved solid at the free throw line, sinking 14 of 20 attempts for the game and missing just two in the fourth quarter.
"The girls are excited, and they feel like they've got a lot more basketball left in them," Daniel said.
Sam Brown also scored eight for Chestatee, while Katie Arthur added six points.
Chestatee will travel to face River Ridge (No. 1 seed) in Woodstock in the second round of state on Friday. The Lady War Eagles have already faced River Ridge once this season, falling to the Lady Knights 47-34 in the Allatoona Christmas Tournament.
TUESDAY'S GHSA FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF BASKETBALL SCORES
Allatoona girls 55, Flowery Branch 49
Chestatee girls 48, Columbus 37
LaGrange girls 67, Stephens County 57
Buford girls 56, Woodward Academy 38
Dawson County girls 68, Blessed Trinity 54
St. Pius X girls 55, White County 30
St. Pius X boys 47, East Hall 45
Rabun County girls 64, Manchester 34
Bremen girls 69, Union County 42
Kendrick girls 73, Jefferson 35
WEDNESDAY'S GHSA FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF BASKETBALL SCHEDULE
Hiram boys (No. 4) at Gainesville (No. 1), 7 p.m. Wednesday
Shaw boys (No. 4) at Johnson (No. 1), 7 p.m. Wednesday
Stephens County boys (No. 3) at Fayette County (No. 2), 6 p.m. Wednesday
Kendrick boys (No. 4 seed) at Jefferson (No. 1 seed), 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Rabun County boys (No. 3) at Spencer (No. 2), 5 p.m. Wednesday
Cedar Grove boys (No. 4) at Buford (No. 1), 6 p.m. Wednesday
Decatur boys (No. 3) at North Hall (No. 2), 7 p.m. Wednesday
Dawson County boys (No. 4) at Woodward Academy (No. 1), 7 p.m. Wednesday