HOMER, Ga. — In a showcase of ranked teams Tuesday night, Class 2A No. 5 Banks County showed it will be a force to be reckoned with after taking an impressive 76-38 win over Class A Division 1 fifth-ranked Rabun County at the Banks County gym.
Even at home, the win for the Lady Leopards (11-3) was unexpected. However, the manner in which they dispatched the previously-unbeaten Lady Wildcats (8-1) was even more so, considering the Lady Wildcats had won seven straight in the series going back to February of 2020. It also avenged a 52-37 loss two weeks ago to the Lady Wildcats, who were the Class 2A state runners-up last season.
“We’ve been looking for that signature win and I think this was it,” Banks County coach Steve Shedd said. “They handled us pretty good the first game so for us to put that many points up and hold them that low was outstanding.”
The 76 points was a season-high for Banks County. The 38 points was the lowest for the Lady Wildcats in five years and their worst beating since an 82-53 loss to Putnam County in December 2017.
“We did not shoot the ball like we normally do but Banks County did a great job on the defensive end,” Rabun County coach DeeDee Dillard said. “We had been playing pretty well and I think this was a little reality check that if you don’t come ready to play every night you’ll get beat."
A swarming Banks County defense forced 12 first half turnovers as part of a 22-0 run to turn an early back-and-forth affair game into a 34-12 advantage. They held Rabun County scoreless for nearly eight minutes and eventually took a 38-19 lead into the break.
“They gashed us on offense that first game so we decided to go to a 3-2 zone in the first half,” Shedd said about the defensive strategy. “We got some turnovers and the girls really played physical. Right now I feel that may be our strongest area."
Rabun County opened the second half with an 11-6 run but then Banks County switched back to a man-to-man defense, which sparked a 13-2 run for a 57-32 lead. Rabun County never got closer than 21 the rest of the way.
The Lady Leopards did a lot of damage inside with 6-foot senior Kamryn Grier and 6-1 junior Carley Segars. Grier recorded a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Segars had 7 points and 3 rebounds.
That opened up shooting lanes for junior Addison Hoard, who had 16 points and 6 assists, Valentina Torres, who finished with 12 points, and Reese Murphy, who had 10 points mostly from the outside.
“We like to go inside first and we have two good post players and we have some shooters,” Shedd said. “But we can play even better on offense I believe. This group has a chance to be special I think.”
Ellie Southards paced Rabun County with 16 points, but only six after the first quarter. Trea Blalock had 7 for the Lady Wildcats.
RABUN COUNTY BOYS 88,
BANKS COUNTY 83
Jayton Henry scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half to help Rabun County rally from a halftime deficit to beat the Leopards on the road.
It was the third win in the last four games for the Wildcats (5-4) while it was the third loss in the last four games for the Leopards (9-4).
A barrage of nine 3-pointers by Banks County in the first half helped the Leopards lead by as many as nine in the first quarter while eventually taking a 48-45 lead at the half after Rabun County chipped away in the second quarter.
Rabun County continued the hot streak in the third quarter using a 24-16 run for a 69-64 lead. They were able to hold several runs by the Leopards to hang on for the win.
Cooper Welch poured in 26 points to lead Rabun County. Huey Blalock finished with 14 points and Jarret Giles added 10 for the Wildcats.
Kolby Watson had a huge game for Banks County with 34 points, including 6 3-pointers. Luke Dale scored 20 points, including 6 3-pointers, and Aaron Scott added 16 points for the Leopards, who drained 14 3-pointers for the game.