They want to get the school’s first postseason win on their own floor.
The Lady Longhorns didn’t particularly shoot well, but relied heavily on their defense to win the Region 7AAAAA tournament with a 53-44 win over Osborne in the championship at Sprayberry High School.
In fact, Kell (22-2) had to rely heavily on its defense in all its region tournament games last week.
The Lady Longhorns also struggled to get shots to fall in earlier wins over Riverwood and Pope. Against the two teams, Kell combined for 22 first half points.
Chances are, the Lady Longhorns may not get away with a poor shooting performance in tonight’s game against Stephenson in the first round of the Class AAAAA state tournament, even if their defense is sound.
Stephenson being the fourth seed out of 6AAAAA is deceiving. The Lady Jaguars (23-4) had just two in-state losses this season prior to being upset by Miller Grove in the region tournament, and they were both to Tucker.
“We have the state’s two strongest regions, and we’re all playing each other,” Kell coach Craig Hines said. “We would have to play either Stephenson or Miller Grove eventually, and we’re playing them early.”
Knowing that the program’s first playoff win is at stake — they were in this situation this time last year when Southwest DeKalb beat them in the first round — they should be in good shape.
A Kell victory would be a remarkable turnaround for a program that won only two games just 5 years ago.
“For us, this could be the game to remember,” said senior China Henderson, one of Kell’s two leading scorers. “We just have to stay with them. I know they work hard, but if we work twice as hard, it should be an easy game.”
Chances are, Kell may be without 6-foot-3 center Caliya Robinson, who is nursing a knee injury. If Robinson can’t go, they have Nikki Eggers and Brittany Stocus, both over 6-feet tall, who can fill her role.
Osborne, which is the No. 2 seed out of 7AAAAA, will host Tucker in the opening round and will rely on Nikira Goings and Zutorya Cook to help carry the team. Pope and Sprayberry are the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds, respectively, and will be on the road against Miller Grove and Southwest DeKalb.
Allatoona claimed the Region 5AAAAA tournament and will host Flowery Branch in the first round with a possible all-Cobb matchup with the Lady Greyhounds waiting in Round 2 if it advances.
While Kell is looking to make school history, North Cobb made history of its own by winning its first region title in its long history by beating McEachern 53-52 on an Amber Reeves free throw.
The Lady Warriors will host Coffee in the first round of the AAAAAA state tournament Wednesday as part of a doubleheader with the boys team. McEachern, last year’s Class AAAAA state champion, which is capable of a few surprises in the state tournament, will host Colquitt County.
With Hillgrove getting upset by McEachern in the region tournament semifinals after beating the Lady Indians twice in regular season play, the Lady Hawks will have to travel to Valdosta. Campbell will also be on the road at Tift County and will play as part of a boys/girls doubleheader on Wednesday.
Wheeler is the lone Cobb team to survive Region 5AAAAAA tournament. The No. 4 seeded Lady Wildcats will be on the road today at Parkview.