By DARRIN SMITH
On Friday, the Lady Indians continued their march though the 7AA region tournament with a semi-finals game against Model. The Chattooga squad showed up and showed out against the Lady Blue Devils by leading wire to wire. As a team, they combined to drain 11 three-pointers in the game to advance to their first region finals appearance since 1988 with the 65-54 win. On Saturday, in a hostile environment in front of a rowdy hometown Rockmart crowd, the Lady Indians again showed up ready to play. They dominated through the first half, but a relentless Lady Jackets team found a way to fight back in the second half to come from behind and take the game to overtime tied at 57-57. In overtime, the hot streak ran out on the Chattooga squad’s offense as Rockmart’s heated up. The result was a 13-2 Rockmart run in OT to win 70-59.
Despite falling to the Jackets in a heartbreaker, the Indians played an outstanding tournament, walked away with second place, and earned the honor of hosting round one of the state tournament. The Lady Indians have previously never hosted a playoff game. They host Therrell at 6 p.m. tomorrow.
The Lady Indians started hot and stayed that way from start to finish. In the first, Jacie Martin and Regan Broome found their range with two-three pointers each as the Tribe jumped out to a 18-11 lead through one. In the second, Martin added another three along with one from Tia Dunaway as they again outscored Model 12-7 to take a 12-point lead to the locker room, 30-18.
After the break, The Lady Devils found their offensive rhythm, but the Indians matched and exceeded it with a 17-16 third, including three-three pointers (one each from Jacie Martin, Regan Broome, and Faith Foster) to head to the final quarter up 13 at 47-34. In the fourth, the three-fest continued for the Indians with Foster and Broome each landing one. Although Model finally found a way to outscore the Indians, the 20-18 fourth was nowhere near enough to get back into the game and the Indians rolled to the win 65-54 to advance.
“Tonight, was our night,” Coach Alvah Beasley told The News. “The girls played extremely hard and together. We were able to execute our game plan to perfection for all four quarters in all facets of the game. Offensively, we hit a number of timely shots and played great team defense. This experience has been immeasurable for our program and exciting for the community. I want to say, thank you to all the fans who have supported us throughout the season, all of our hard-fought victories and heartbreaking losses.”
Three Indians reached double figures in the game with Faith Foster leading the way with 22 points. Jacie Martin scored 20 and Regan Broome finished with 14 in the win.
For the second night in a row, the Indians started out with the upper hand. In a defensive fight through the first, the Lady Indians held the advantage 7-4. In the second, both teams’ offenses found traction but the CHS girls kept the momentum with a 18-12 run to take a 25-16 lead to the half. After the break, Rockmart’s Keyarah Berry, 7AA player of the year, found her stride. After being held to eight first half points, the standout player upped her game. She scored 10 in the third on her way to scoring 40 in the game. Behind Berry, Rockmart took the Tribe on a 24-17 run through the third to bring it to a two-point contest at 42-40 headed to the fourth. With no quit in either team, the battle was on.
The Indians extended the lead to five twice in the fourth, only to see Rockmart battle back. With less than a minute left to play, the Indians were at the line for a chance to go up four but failed to score. It was the opening the Jackets were waiting for. With her signature power game, Berry drove to the net but missed. With players falling all around, the Lady Indians caught an unlucky break. Instead of a charge being called, a foul put Berry at the line. Luckily, she missed both shots to keep the dream alive for the Tribe. With the clock running out quickly the Indians waited for the perfect shot to seal the win. In another bit of bad luck, the routine shot missed. It was all Berry needed to streak down the court after Rockmart rebounded and she would not be denied a second time. One final shot at the buzzer from the Indians went wide to send the game to overtime.
In overtime, the Indians offense lost its rhythm while Berry and friends continued to heat up. With a 13-2 run through overtime they ran away with the region championship with the 70-59 victory.
“The girls represented Chattooga High School and the community well,” Coach Beasley said. “It was an extraordinary week of firsts for our program. I couldn’t be prouder of our team. The girls left everything they had on the court. We played, gave effort, and competed like champions. Unfortunately, there is only one winner. We will regroup and focus our energy on our next opponent. We’re excited to host a home playoff game on Friday. We look forward to seeing everyone then, Go Big Red.”
Faith Foster drained four three-pointers to lead the team in scoring with 24 points. Eight Indians scored in the game but, Regan Broome’s 11 was the only other Indian to reach double digits.