The hoopla of Deesha Brefford reaching a personal basketball milestone is over, and now New Manchester is back to chasing a bigger team goal.
With six games remaining, New Manchester is in contention of locking up a state playoff berth if it can win out on the season.
A big task for the Jaguars happens tonight when it host Region 5-AAAAA second-place team Villa Rica.
“It is a very big game because we can help ourselves a lot with a win,” said Brefford, who scored her 1,000th career point in a win over East Paulding on Tuesday.
“We just need to take care of business the rest of the way,” Jaguars coach Vincent Parks said. “We have an opportunity to control our own destiny and it starts with Villa Rica.”
This will be the third time the teams have met this season with them splitting the wins. However, Villa Rica’s 49-42 win at home on Dec. 11 was a region contest. The Jaguars’ win eight days later came in the championship game of the SMI Holiday Classic in Carrollton. It was not a region game.
“We saw where we could play with them and beat them,” Brefford said.
In the first meeting, the Jaguars were short-handed as five players had to sit out the game because of an altercation during the Chapel Hill contest.
In the Jaguars win during the holiday tournament, it was able to limit Villa Rica freshman phenom Deasia Merrill. New Manchester will need another big effort if it hopes to get the win tonight.
During the Wildcats’ seven-game winning streak, Merrill has been tough to defend as she is averaging 27.7 points.
In Tuesday’s 61-58 win over South Paulding, she had 34 points and 10 rebounds, but the team need some last minutes heroics from Daijah Hanson to seal the win.
Hanson hit two free throws with under a minute left to put the Wildcats up three and season its seventh straight victory.
On the season, Merrill is averaging 25.8 points for a team that is averaging 58.3 points per contest.
Parks said the team will apply the same defensive strategy that held Merrill to 17 points in the tournament win. In the earlier loss to the Wildcats, Merrill had 21 points in that game.
“We will do some of the same things we did in that game,” Parks said. “We have to limit the number of shots she has. We want someone else on their team to beat us. Our girls understand the importance of this game, and know what is at stake.”
New Manchester can do itself a favor with a win as Villa Rica takes on defending champion and region leader Hiram on Saturday. The Wildcats also have games at Chapel Hill on Tuesday, host Alexander on Jan. 29 followed by at game at East Paulding on Jan. 30.
Villa Rica closes the season against Allatoona on Feb. 2.
“Right now, we are looking to start getting ready for the region tournament,” Parks said. “We have a chance to help ourself and get into a good position going into the region tournament.”