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February 12, 2014

Tift County plays Brunswick, Coffee in region semis

TIFTON — Tuesday was a day of revelations for the Tift County Blue Devils basketball squads. The Lady Devils won their region tournament game over the Valdosta Lady Wildcats, 62-44, and the Devils learned that they would be playing the Coffee Trojans today in the semifinals.

The win gave the Lady Devils their fourth straight entry in the state tournament. Both teams advanced to the elite eight last season. Including this year, the boys have 21 straight appearances.

Both coaches were glad for the way the tourney was arranged. Dr. Eric Holland said it was nice to already know who they were playing and have a day to prepare. Julie Conner was also glad for the day of rest before heading back east. She said they will be spending the night in Brunswick Thursday to avoid two days of travel.

The Lady Devils will be playing their hosts today. Brunswick, the No. 1 seed, is the only team in Region 1-AAAAAA to have beaten Tift County twice.

Tonight might be a different story. Tift has won three of their last four games, including a pair of comeback wins over Valdosta. That does not include Tuesday's blasting of the Lady 'Cats.

"I had been hoping we'd peak at the right time," said Conner.

Holding Valdosta to no field goals in the 1st quarter and only one in the 2nd, they led 29-14 at halftime. Their opponents mounted a brief comeback late, but Conner was able to list several players who stepped up their game.

"The girls played so hard. Alexis Johnson had a double-double, 21 points and 13 rebounds. Breck (Brecklyn Greene) found her shot and made three 3's in a row. Audrey (McElhaney) is playing great basketball. Sky Moore played great defense. Dail (Adaway) and Moneisha (Goldsborough) stepped up."

All this happened, she said, after Staceyanna Murrell fouled out.

"I'm very proud of them."

Outside of Johnson's scoring, Greene had 13 points, all of them in the 4th quarter, with McElhaney adding 10 and Adaway 8.

For the boys team, this will be their first trip to Brunswick since the bus accident Jan. 3, though they have been down the same stretch of highway since, when they had to play at Camden County.

Saturday's loss to Valdosta, combined with the end of the undefeated streak in the region is not a big concern to Holland. He believes his season actually starts now. "We're 0-0," he said. "The magic number is seven and Thursday is the most important game of the year for us."

Coffee nearly upset the Devils earlier this season, taking them to overtime before dropping a 64-61 decision. The 10-point win in Douglas was comparatively a blowout.

Holland knows it will be extra tough. "Everybody's fighting for the same goal." Plus, an already stacked region has been pared to four ultra strong teams. "Our region is well represented with Valdosta, Coffee, Brunswick."

He said the team was feeling pretty well at this point of the season and that they were coming off two good days of practice.

Regardless of results today, the teams will be playing Friday, as seeds are determined for the state tournament. The other games today are Valdosta vs. Brunswick boys and Colquitt County vs. Lowndes girls.

 

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20140801 Tift volleyball.JPG

The 2014 Tift County Lady Devils volleyball team. Summer Bennett, Chat Butts, Carolina Carter, Kaleigh Hobby, Molly Jones, Savannah Kendrick, Mariena McCullough, Dail Adaway, Vanity Golson, Alex Miller, Taylor Nimmo, Amanda Riddle, Logan Seeman, Taylor Cross, Karina Delgado, Audrey McElhaney, Madison Spivey, Julianna Cross and Olivia Thomas Assistants are Dana Fletcher and Chance Benson. Head coach is Courtney Mitchell.

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