The Douglas County girls’ basketball team traveled to Westlake on Friday, Saturday and Monday to compete in the Peach State Classic. The Lady Tigers reached the championship game on Monday where they fell to the host school, 69-56. DC reached the title game by beating Fayette County, 62-38 on Friday and South West Atlanta Christian Academy, 72-64, on Saturday.
Though DC lost to Westlake in the title game, they managed to hang with Lady Lions for all four quarters. The outcome was much better than the last time the two teams met. The Lady Tigers fell to Westlake in that first game, 79-49.
“We did not let them run away from us like we allowed in the first game,” said DCHS coach Chet Forsh.
In that first game, Westlake jumped up on the Lady Tigers, 25-9. This time, DC trailed by only four after the first eight minutes, 18-14. They were down 35-23 at the half and 49-33 at the end of the third.
“We just did not shoot well in the second quarter and had too many unforced errors with 12 in the first half,” Forsh said. “In the second half we played a little better, and played better defense.”
The Lady Tigers were able to hold down Westlake’s Anriel Howard. Howard, a senior who has signed with Texas A&M, scored 39 points in the first game but was held to only 16 on Monday.
The difference of the game easily came from the free throw line. Douglas County hit only 19-of-31 shots from the line. Westlake hit 16-of-21.
Santasia Faust led DC’s offense with 16 points. She was 10-for-14 from the free throw line. Alex Brown added 14 points. Amira Atwater scored seven points. Atwater, along with Ashanti Brown, were named to the All-Tournament Team.
Westlake is arguably the best team in 6A and currently ranks first in the AJC poll after McEachern lost over the weekend. Osborne, the team which DC’s Maya Benham transferred to in the summer, is currently second. Osborne has one loss, which came to SWACA, which the Lady Tigers beat in the second game of the tourney.
Forsh said that the Christmas tournament was good for his Lady Tigers.
“We did not have the entire team at practice every day, or dress in the three games, but after the 0-3 Thanksgiving tournament, we showed some improvement. You are never satisfied as a coach, but I was pleased with how we played. We still have things we can do better.”
On Friday, Douglas County was supposed to open with a team from Memphis. However, the Tennessee squad was not able to make the trip and instead DC squared off for the first time this year with Fayette County.
“I did not know anything about them other than knowing the head coach,” said Douglas County Coach Chet Forsh.
Despite not knowing their opponent well, the Lady Tigers of DC managed to come away with the win. They led 11-10 after the first quarter, 24-23 at the half, and 44-34 after the third.
Forsh said he threw out a different lineup, rewarding those who were able to stay over the holidays and compete in team workouts. Starters Arsula Clark and Santasia Faust started on the bench, but quickly found their way into the game.
“I did not sit them as a punishment,” Forsh said. “It is about family travels and I understand that. This was more of a reward to those who were able to stay.”
Fayette managed to keep the game close in the first half by shooting well from the outside, but once DC made the adjustment they were able to outscore Fayette 20-11 in the third quarter and 18-4 in the fourth quarter.
Amira Atwater led DC with 20 points. She hit four 3-pointers. Faust added nine points. Ashanti Brown played well under the glass, getting several rebounds
“Ashanti played one of her best games,” Forsh said. “She is a young post player and she made a couple of nice moves inside and rebounded well.”
Against SWACA on Saturday, the Lady Tigers struggled out of the gate, trailing 13-10 after the first quarter and 35-28 at the half. Douglas County turned it around in the third quarter, out-scoring their opponent, 27-16.
“In the third quarter we forced some turnovers and shot the ball better,” Forsh said. “We had some good looks in the first half but did not make the shots early.”
SWACA is a Single-A school, and the alma matter of NBA superstar Dwight Howard. They had only six girls on the varsity squad, but had two players over 6-foot-2 and one over 5-foot-11.
Atwater once again led the scoring for DC, netting 24 points. She scored 12 points from the 3-point line, and added the rest of her scores in the transition and with layups. Clark followed with 10 points. Ashanti Brown added nine and sister Alex Brown scored eight. Faust added seven points.
Gabby Whatley added much needed minutes under the post from the bench.
“She was one of the bigger surprises in the game,” Forsh said.