DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Calling it “awful,” Lumpkin County senior Kate Jackson and the rest of the Lady Indians wanted to show that last month’s overtime loss to Wesleyan was the outlier, not the norm.
“We made some terrible mistakes in that game,” Jackson said. “We wanted to make a statement and show everyone that we’re back to where we expect to be.”
They did that and then some on Friday at Lynn Cottrell Gym. Behind a triple-double from Mary Mullinax, the defending Class 3A state champs used a huge second half to rout the Lady Wolves, 70-48, in a battle for first place in Region 7-3A.
Both teams came into Friday tied with White County for the top spot. Lumpkin County (16-3, 6-1 Region 7-3A), for now, has a one-game lead over Wesleyan (15-3, 5-2 Region 7-3A) and sole possession of first place with White County (15-4, 5-1 Region 7-3A) being idle on Friday.
Mullinax finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists, with most of that damage coming during a 23-point third quarter as the Indians pushed a slim 26-20 halftime lead to 49-33. Jackson had 8 of her 18 points in the third as well. Averie Jones and Lexi Pierce took over in the fourth, with Jones pouring in 7 of her 14 points and Pierce 5 of her 11 points in the final period as they led by as many as 23 twice.
A 17-5 spurt over the final 5:19 of the period and a 10-0 run early in the fourth for a 61-41 lead essentially put the game out of reach with five minutes left.
“We’re hitting our stride right now; I think,” Lumpkin County coach David Dowse said. “The defensive intensity was much better this time (than the first game). We were really locked in on defense.”
“Every time they punched, we came roaring back with a big play. Very pleased with how we’re playing right now.”
Jackson, now a senior, said things are finally getting fun.
“We were in our heads a little bit early in the season,” she said. “The White County game (on Tuesday) got us going, and now tonight against Wesleyan. Whatever we were missing has come back.
“We loved last year, but that was then. We’re trying to have some fun and do it again this year. I think this week showed we’re getting back that.”
Wesleyan led just once, at 3-2, before the Lady Indians closed out the first quarter with a 13-4 run for a 15-7 lead. Lumpkin County took its biggest lead of the half at 21-9 on a pair of Pierce free throws early in the second.
The Lady Wolves fought back over the final four minutes, using a full-court press to force three Lumpkin County turnovers. Chazadi Wright was the main spark pouring in all 7 of her first-half points, including a 3-pointer and two free throws in the final 59 seconds to get Wesleyan within 26-20 at the break.
Wright hit a 3-pointer early in the third, followed by a three-point play and a driving layup to get the Lady Wolves’ within 32-28. But that’s as close as they would get as Lumpkin County closed out the third with a 12-0 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Jackson and Mullinax.
After Wright hit two more 3-pointers, Jackson and Jones hit back-to-back treys, and Pierce capped the 10-0 run.
“Every time they punched, we came roaring back with a big play,” Dowse said.” Very pleased with how we’re playing right now.”
Wright finished with 19 points to pace Wesleyan. Eva Garabadian had 11, 8 in the third quarter, for the Lady Wolves.
Cierra Brooks had 8 points and 4 rebounds for Lumpkin County.
The Lady Indians have a chance to keep the pressure on in the race for the No. 1 seed traveling to West Hall and Gilmer, who are a combined 0-11 in region play, next week.
Wesleyan will play host to White County on Tuesday. In their first meeting last month, the Lady Warriors knocked off Wesleyan 59-51.
WESLEYAN BOYS 50,
LUMPKIN COUNTY 39
The Wolves outscored the Indians 19-8 in the fourth quarter to pull out the region win on the road.
It was a key win for Wesleyan (13-6, 5-2 Region 7-3A), which remained in second place in the region standings. Lumpkin (4-16, 1-6 Region 7-3A) was looking for its second region win in its last three games.
Lumpkin County, playing without leading scorer Cal Faulkner, had kept it close throughout. The Indians trailed just 11-5 after the first quarter and closed to within 20-19 by halftime.
Hunter Cooper and Stephen Sherrill both got hot in the third quarter with 12 combined points, and Lumpkin County caught the Wolves at 31. A Sherrill trey to open the fourth gave the Indians a 34-31 lead with 7:28 left, as it looked like the upset was brewing.
But Wesleyan answered with a 17-0 run behind Josh Kavel and Thomas Chipman, who combined for 15 points as Lumpkin County went scoreless for six minutes.
Kavel finished with 21 points, and Chipman and Braydon Tidwell each had 10 for the Wolves.
Cooper poured in a game-high 24, including 6 3-pointers, to pace Lumpkin County. Sherrill finished with 9 points for the Indians.