Hillgrove goes inside for big victory
by Zac Diodati
MDJ Sports Correspondent
February 19, 2014 04:00 AM | 2182 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
POWDER SPRINGS — Hillgrove used its dominant frontcourt to score early and often on the way to a 74-54 win over North Cobb in the Region 4AAAAAA girls tournament semifinals at McEachern High School on Tuesday.

North Cobb starting center Moriah Hopkins picked up her third foul late in the first quarter, and when coach John Speeney took her out of the game, the Lady Hawks’ forwards took advantage of the size advantage inside. Hillgrove finished the first quarter leading 20-8, and kept the momentum in the second quarter.

“We got off to a slow start,” Speeney said. “We had a tough game (Monday) against Campbell where we only had seven players available, and we’re down a few injuries, too.”

Hillgrove showed no mercy moving forward, yet still played a disciplined game. North Cobb didn’t make its first trip to the freethrow line until the 5 minute mark in the second quarter.

After Ja’Lyn Reese converted a fastbreak layup, Speeney called timeout with Hillgrove leading 31-13.

With just seconds remaining until halftime, the Lady Hawks’ Iasia Early made a basket to give Hillgrove a

40-28 lead going into the intermission.

The Lady Hawks opened the third quarter on a 9-2 run led by Tene Thompson and Mackenzie Engram. Thompson finished with 15 points and Engram led the game with 24.

North Cobb was led by guard Kyrie’ Chandler who finished with 21 points including 7-of-10 from the free throw line.

“We had a size advantage on the inside” Hillgrove coach Susan Milam said. “That’s really our game, getting the ball inside.”

With the win, Hillgrove will face crosstown rival McEachern today for the region championship. The win and also guarantees the Lady Hawks a home game for the first round of the state playoffs.

“It’s always nice when you know you don’t have to drive four hours to South Georgia to start the tournament,” Milam said. “Plus, you want to play at home, that’s where your fans are, it’s a big sigh of relief, and I’m extremely excited about being able to host the first round.”

North Cobb will play in the consolation game against Marietta, and will have to start the state playoffs on the road.

“We know we’re getting one of our injured players back for the state playoffs,” Sweeney said. “And if we just take care of the little things like boxing out and attacking the basket, we’re going to be OK.”
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