MARIETTA — After a competitive first quarter, Kell pulled away for a 66-40 win over Bainbridge on Wednesday in the second round of the Class AAAAA state tournament.
The Lady Longhorns, who improved to 30-0, advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time in team history. They will host either Lithia Springs or Jones County in the next round.
Coming into the season, Kell had only won a playoff game once in 2014.
“It took us a little bit to get in sync I guess,” Kell coach Tony Ingle Jr. said, “but we had to just keep playing.”
Bainbridge (14-16) took an lead in the game’s first minute, but Kell went in front on a 3-pointer by Makyah Favors, making the score 11-8 with 45 seconds left in the first period. On the next possession, Maliyah Davis added a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 14-8, and the Lady Longhorns led 14-10 at the first break.
The basket was the only score of the game for Davis, while Favors finished with six points. Kell was led by Crystal Henderson, who scored 10 of her 19 points in the second quarter as the Lady Longhorns surged ahead.
Henderson stepped by a defender and scored in the paint to put Kell ahead 26-17 with 2:30 left before halftime, then hit a baseline jumper with less than a minute remaining in the half to give the Lady Longhorns a 33-18 lead before they took a 34-19 lead at the half.
“(Bainbridge has) two big post players, and rebounding was big for us,” Ingle said. “We worked on fronting the post and taking those two out of the game, and it opened things up for our guards.”
Henderson was joined by Kya Williams, who also had a productive game in Kell’s backcourt, scoring 18.
Williams scored on a putback in the third quarter to make the score 46-25 with 2:40 left in the period, followed by Henderson converting a step-back 3-pointer for a 51-27 lead advantage with less than a minute left in the third quarter.
After two blowout victories in the state tournament, Kell will resume its postseason run next week.
“It feels good, but we’re staying focused,” Ingle said.