In the second half of this high school basketball season, Southeast Whitfield’s girls struggled to score.
The Lady Raiders didn’t suddenly find a magic touch in the Region 7-4A tournament Tuesday at Dalton High.
Pickens broke a 13-13 second-quarter tie with a 21-4 run to close out the first half, and the Dragonettes never were threatened after that, cruising to a 54-32 victory over the Lady Raiders in the tournament quarterfinals.
“We picked the wrong time to have another cold night shooting,” Southeast coach Mike Durham said. “You don’t want that to happen, but those kind of nights are going to happen.”
Pickens (16-10) advances to Friday’s semifinals and will play at 7 p.m., facing the winner of tonight’s Northwest Whitfield-LaFayette quarterfinals matchup. The Dragonettes also assured themselves of one of the region’s four berths in the Class 4A state tournament.
While Southeast’s lack of scoring helped, the Dragonettes did plenty on their own to win the game. Starting with the outside shooting of guard Kadie Maddox, who scored 12 of her 15 points in the first half, Pickens only picked up the pace in the second quarter.
After falling behind 10-2 to start the game, Southeast (15-10) battled back, and Cricket Wyatt’s putback basket to start the second quarter tied the game at 10. Maddox hit her third 3-pointer of the game, and Wyatt matched her on the other end, but then the ice settled in.
The Lady Raiders hit just two baskets the rest of the half, while Pickens’ two posts found their rhythm. Sarah Smith and Danielle Goss combined for 28 points and 23 rebounds, something Durham said his girls weren’t used to seeing.
“We didn’t adjust very well to their post play,” Durham said. “Every team up here is so guard-oriented, and we didn’t do a good job handling them down on the block.
“We struggled shooting the ball and had a little foul trouble, and all of a sudden they were up by 17 at the end of the half.”
Southeast seniors Megan Collins and Tavi Parris both had two fouls midway through the second quarter. Collins, who has been the Lady Raiders’ leading scorer all season, finished with seven points, all coming in the first 12 minutes of the game. Parris also had seven.
Wyatt, a sophomore, led Southeast with 14 points.
Despite the season-ending loss, Durham was pleased with the progress of his team, which won just one game last season before he took over the program this past summer.
“We had a real good year, and we are so proud of them,” Durham said. “We hope the younger girls will follow in the footsteps of this senior class and continue to work hard and get better.”