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EAST POINT – The Lovejoy girls basketball team has used the motto “turn down a good shot to get a great shot” to win majority of its games this season, and that strategy worked well in the finale of the Chick-fil-A Holiday Invitational at Tri-Cities High School on December 29.
Amber Thornton scored 21 points and Symone Williams and Kayla Brown added 15 apiece to help the Lady Wildcats hold off Douglass for the tournament championship with a 70-64 win.
“Anytime you win is good but we got a long way to go,” Lovejoy coach Cedric King said. “We just got to keep getting better. Our on-ball defense was horrible tonight so we just got to learn to guard the ball better and be more solid than that. It was a good thing our offense was on tonight. When we have an offensive night the way we had it, it is hard to beat us.”
After holding a comfortable lead for the first three quarters, Lovejoy saw its advantage evaporate when Nekiyah Thompson (26 points) nailed a 3-pointer with 6:21 left in the game for a 50-50 tie. But on the other end, Williams answered with her fifth 3 of the game for a three-point edge.
Then the contest turned into a back-and-forth battle, featuring big shots from Jamecia Johnson, Genesis Bryant (eight points, five assists), Brown and finally Thornton. After Thompson converted a layup for a 63-61 score with 1:50 remaining, Thornton rebuilt the lead with a jumper 10 seconds later.
Brown, who also grabbed 13 rebounds, added a layup with 1:00 to go and the Lady Wildcats (12-2) stretched the margin from there at the foul line for their third straight win.
“[Kayla] had a great game,” King said. “She rebounded well but I thought she got a lot of bad calls as far as on our help defense. I thought some of those calls were not warranted but the game is the game. We try to control the things we can control and I thought she did a good job of playing through it.”
LaMia Richardson had 17 points and four steals for the Lady Astros (8-4). In the first quarter, Richardson was a one-woman wrecking crew, scoring her team’s final 13 points of the frame.
Lovejoy, which didn’t hesitate to keep the ball and the Lady Astros’ defense moving to get good looks at the basket, led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter before Thompson willed Douglass back within single digits for a 39-33 halftime score.
“We talk about give up the good for the great,” King said. “They know that. We know how to play together but if we defend like this we don’t have a chance because we just can’t try to outscore everybody like that. We got to take more pride in getting stops.”
The Lady Wildcats will open 2017 at home against Stephenson on January 6. The Lady Astros will host Hapeville Charter on the same day.