GREENVILLE — Andrew Jackson High School senior Dareisha Sowell made sure things did not go so well for the Newberry High School Lady Bulldogs on Saturday as Andrew Jackson left Greenville with a 62-48 victory over the Bulldogs.
She scorched NHS for 40 points and got enough help from her supporting cast to earn a berth in the AA State Championship game.
Andrew Jackson opened the game with a 13-6 run but the Bulldogs clawed their way back into the game one possession at a time.
Relying on the defense that has been a trademark of this team all season, the Bulldogs used their quickness to frustrate Volunteers and create turnovers. Lots of hustle and securing loose balls and rebounds helped the Dogs get back in in and the game was tied at 20 at halftime.
From there the lead changed hands a few times though Andrew Jackson had the lead heading into the final frame.
With 8:39 remaining in the game Andrew Jackson led 43-38. But Andrew Jackson pushed the lead to ten and 52-42 with 2:34 remaining and led by twelve when Arnasia Boyd fouled out with 1:55 left in the game.
Boyd and her back court mates were tasked with keeping up with the speedy Andrew Jackson guard who got high percentage shots and earned her trips to the free throw line.
Sowell did much of her damage from the free throw line, hitting 7 of 13 from the line in the fourth quarter.
In addition to losing out at the charity stripe, the usually stalwart NHS defense had a few key lapses down the stretch.
“We had defensive breakdowns on two straight possessions and could not get the lead back after that,” Coach Melissa Mendenhall said.
Age and maturity gave the Volunteers an edge Saturday, in her opinion, but Mendenhall said her girls have nothing to be ashamed of after an outstanding season.
“This was a learning experience and we will build off of it. I am so proud of our team because we achieved something that no one thought would happen,” she said. “Arnasia really took the loss hard. I hate to see her leave like that (fouling out the fourth quarter) after having coached her for five years, but give Andrew Jackson credit. It was their day.”
The Dogs overcame an early season slump to not only salvage their season but to go where their coach is pretty sure no Lady Bulldogs team has been before.
So far as Mendenhall knows this is the first time a NHS girls team made it to the upper state championship game.
“We’d just like to thank the community for supporting us and look for us to be back next year, without Arnasia, but we’ll be back,” she said.
Tyshiria Bates led the Dogs with 12 points. Arnasia Boyd, the team’s lone senior, scored 11.
Nigeria Davis added eight points. Eighth grader Kelsey Felks scored five as did Octavia Grandy-Goodman.
Fatima Sims’ (four points) and Esha Mathis’ (three points) rounded out the scoring for the Bulldogs.
NHS finished 16-10, including a 15-1 run since Jan. 1 as the team clicked and the girls went on a tear that had them on the cusp of the AA State Championship Game.
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