New Manchester played host to Allatoona in a regional matchup Saturday night. The Lady Jaguars held on for the 41-33 victory, while the boys' team fell short, losing 70-48.
Though it may not have been the prettiest, the Lady Jags still came away with the win. New Manchester made just 5-of-21 free throws, but relied on a strong defense to pull away from Allatoona. The Lady Jags were led by junior Deesha Brefford. Brefford was the only player in double figures, finishing with a game-high 22 points. Brianna Middleton and Ann-Madeliene Wilson led Allatoona with nine points each.
Both teams started off slow, with New Manchester taking a 6-5 lead after the first quarter, then a 20-13 lead into halftime. Brefford almost outscored Allatoona single handedly with 12 points at the half.
With both teams showing inconsistencies on both ends, it was Brefford who made the difference.
“She does a lot for us,” said Head Coach Vincent Parks. “Everything we do goes through her. Starts with her, definitely on the offensive end, and she is one of our better rebounders as well. I told her she needed to be more aggressive the last couple of games, and that’s why we are winning.”
With the Lady Jaguars leading 28-20 after three quarters, an eight-point deficit was the closest the Lady Buccaneers would get. After falling behind double figures, Allatoona made one last push, cutting the deficit again to eight with just under five minutes to play. But Brefford answered with a back breaking three-pointer with four minutes left to go back up by double figures and essentially put the game away.
“Things are starting to come together, they are starting to figure it out,” said Parks. “Hiram is the front runner in the region but if we play how we are supposed to, I expect us to finish no lower than second.”
The New Manchester boys’ team did not have the same success as the girls. The Jaguars received the bulk of their scoring contributions from two players. Tyler Edwards finished tied for a game-high 16 points and Clinton Bentley added 15 for the Jaguars.
While New Manchester kept it close early, trailing 14-10 at the end of the first quarter, Allatoona used a strong second quarter to take a double digit lead, 30-20, into halftime.
“We came out a little flat, and we just did not adjust,” said Head Coach James Bailey. “You have to give them credit. They are very well coached team and a very good team.”
The second half started just like the first, with Allatoona jumping out and scoring the first few baskets and extending their lead. The Buccaneers led 52-36 after three quarters, then took their biggest lead of the game when Bradley Brevet converted a 3-point play with 4:15 left to play, pushing its lead to 62-38.
The Buccaneers had a balanced scoring attack, getting help from several people on their roster. Four players finished in double figures, with Kevin Perry leading the way with 16 points, Bradley Brevet adding 13, Jamaan Calhoun added 12 and Ephraim Tshimanga chipping in with 10.
Bailey felt the game got away from them on the defensive end. Changing from the man to a zone defense proved to be a little challenging for his players, which is something Coach feels they need to work on.
“We haven’t worked on a zone the whole year, and as a coach that is something I have to adjust and improve on,” said Bailey. “Bad coaching on my end but I’m going to work hard to improve and have the guys ready for next game.”