Defense leads Fayette Co. to victory over Whitewater

Defense leads Fayette Co. to victory over Whitewater

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Darryl Langford lit up Whitewater with 21 points and followed that up with 29 against Newton. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)
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Phillip Young posted 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals against Whitewater.

The Fayette County Tigers completed an in-county sweep for the week, following up Tuesday’s wins over Starr’s Mill with a Friday night takedown of the Whitewater Wildcats.

The Lady Tigers (13-5) took it to an injury-depleted Wildcat squad in a 46-24 win. It wasn’t always pretty, but it is still a key region victory.

“Any win is a great win for me,” said coach John Strickland. “You’ve got to stay the course and play four quarters of basketball, especially the second half of the season because things tighten up a little bit when you get to region play.”

The Tigers certainly tightened up against Whitewater, fending off a strong foe and limiting them to just five points in the second half.

“I was really pleased with how we played defense,” said Strickland. “Whitewater is a tough team. It took us a minute to get things going and settle down.”

Darryl Langford quickly heated up from long range to spark the Tigers to a 9-2 advantage. Morgan Johnson responded with a three-point play as the Wildcats sliced the deficit to 11-7 after one quarter.

Janiya Jones had a strong sequence early in the second as she scored twice from the floor then dished to Jordyn Miller to tie the game at 13-13. Langford shook them off with a pair of 3-pointers, and Maegan Barkley wowed the crowd with a reverse layup to open the lead back up to seven points. Jones kept pushing as the Cats clawed back within 22-19 at the half.

The second half belonged to the Tigers as more of the team joined in on the fun. Rikkelle Miller hit from deep, Naomi Franco put in a putback, and Sidney Sims got to the rim for two as the lead grew to 33-22 after three.

The fourth quarter was more of the same with Langford putting in a dominating performance. She scored the final frame’s first points on a floater before stealing the inbounds pass and putting it in for two more.

Jada Claude kept battling in the paint for the Cats with a putback, but they just could not seem to find much breathing room for their offense. Fayette helped put the game out of reach with a Trinity Brown drive and dish to Jazlyne Hanson to key a 7-0 run to finish off the 46-24 victory.

Darryl Langford struck for 21 points, and Maegan Barkley added 10.

Janiya Jones led the Wildcats with 8 points, and Morgan Johnson added 7 points. Maya Bryant pulled down 9 rebounds.

The Lady Tigers got back to work Monday versus Newton in the MLK Holiday Classic at Campbell High School, beating the Rams 72-59. They have now won 10 of their last 11 games and sit at 13-5 overall. Langford topped herself against the Rams with 29 points, followed by Miller with 12.

The Lady Wildcats (11-7) rebounded Saturday with a 46-39 win over the Raiders led by 21 points and 11 rebounds from Janiya Jones. Jada Claude added 9 points and 15 rebounds.

The Fayette County boys (13-5) surged in the second half en route to a 58-36 win over Whitewater.

“We’re not a complete team yet, but we’re striving to get better and better,” said coach Andre Flynn. ”I’m pleased with where we’re at right now. We’ve played everybody in the region, and we’re seeing how we stack up and what we’ve got to do to get better.”

With high expectations and quality competition in the region, the Tigers don’t mind playing with a bullseye on their back every night.

“We know everybody’s going to give us their best shot, and that’s good. That’s how you get better,” said Flynn. “We don’t shy away from that. We’re going to keep on pushing.”

The Tigers started the game with a flourish, taking an early lead when Austin Nesmith drove and dished to a wide-open Noah Gurley on the baseline for a thunderous dunk. While they would have a hard time getting their own offense into gear, they would wreak havoc on the Wildcat attack as they held an 11-4 advantage after one quarter.

“I like how we’re playing defensively. We didn’t get our heads down, we just kept playing,” said Flynn. “That was one of those games where you’ve just got to scrap and claw. You’ve just got to find something inside.”

The second quarter was more of the same with neither offense finding traction. K’won Bush took advantage of a break in the defense to get to the rim for a layup, and Joshua Anthony added a pair as the Cats pulled within 11-8. Fayette answered with a little more pressure to score off consecutive steals, Gurley throwing down another dunk and Philip Young finishing with contact for a 17-9 halftime lead.

The second half saw a bit more life from the offense on both sides. Kahmonnie Willies opened with a three for the Tigers, and Gurley sparked a mini-run with a putback and a block as the lead got to 24-13. Whitewater answered with an Anthony three-point play and a Copeland Jackson baseline bucket to cut the deficit back to single-digits.

Nesmith baffled the Cats, sinking a trey and then swiping the inbounds pass, scoring with contact, and sinking the freebie for six-straight points. Young followed with a fake to shake a defender and a smooth jumper, then Nesmith stole the ball and lobbed it to Gurley for an alley-oop and a commanding 36-23 lead after three.

Young kept up the pressure to start the fourth with a rebound and jumper to push the lead to 15. Bush tried to keep it close with a three, but a Young dunk was an emphatic response. The Cats got their closest down the stretch on consecutive buckets from Josh Graham, but threes from Willis and Young slammed the door shut in a 58-36 win.

Phillip Young led the Tigers with 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals. Noah Gurley posted 16 points and 7 rebounds. Austin Nesmith added 13 points, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds.

The Wildcats were led by Josh Graham with 14 points and Joshua Anthony with 11 points.

The Whitewater boys (7-11) saw their skid continue with a loss to Riverdale Saturday.

 

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Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.