Pickens County — It was win or go home as the Pickens Dragonettes (21-4) welcomed the Stephenson Lady Jaguars (4-14) to the Dragons Den for the first round of the GHSA 4A Girls State Basketball Tournament. Coming into the game, the Nettes were the #1 seed out of region 7 after defeating the Northwest Whitfield Lady Bruins on February 19th for the third time this season to capture the 7-AAAA Region Championship. The Lady Jaguars, came in as the #4 seed out of region 6. After a back and forth game, the Nettes overcame a 12 point, fourth quarter deficit to defeat Stephenson 62-59.
In the first quarter, the Lady Jaguars came out firing opening up an early lead. Offensively for the Nettes, it was the Cassidy Richards show as she hit 3 three pointers and scored 12 of the 17 first quarter points for Pickens. After trailing by 7 during the quarter, the Nettes cut the Lady Jaguars lead down to 21-17 going to the second.
The second quarter, was ultra competitive with both teams staying close. Pickens, took their first lead of the game as they used an 18-12 quarter run to send us into the break with the Nettes ahead, 35-33. Pickens got contributions from Bella Howell, Amanda Nelson, Madison Powell, Marlee McClure, Emma Gleason, and Caroline Mullins during the quarter.
The third quarter, for the most part, belonged to the visiting Lady Jaguars as they were able to reclaim the lead during the frame. Outscoring Pickens 19-11 in the third, Stephenson took a 52-46 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, things looked troublesome for the home team as the Lady Jaguars doubled their lead up to twelve at a couple of points in the frame. Pickens however, stayed calm. They strung together stops on the defensive side of the court, and came up clutch on the offensive side of the court. Having come all the way back to take a 60-59 lead, the Nettes sent Caroline Mullins to the free throw line with under 10 seconds left. Mullins, stepped to the line, and knocked down both to make it 62-59. Stephenson’s last second attempt to send the game into overtime hit the back of the rim and came down and the Nettes hung on to get the 62-59 win.
Leading scorers for the Nettes:
Cassidy Richards: 16 points
Caroline Mullins: 11 points
Amanda Nelson: 10 points
Kealy Hillhouse: 7 points
Marlee McClure: 5 points
The Nettes, advance to the sweet 16 where they will host either the #2 seed out of region 5, the Mt. Zion-Jonesboro Lady Bulldogs, or the #3 seed out of region 8, the North Oconee Lady Titans on Friday (time to be determined). Those two teams play on Wednesday, February 24th. This will be the 1st time that a sweet 16 game will be played in Jasper since 1985.