Katie Harris, a senior, led the offensive charge for Woodland, dropping 12 points for the winning cause on senior night.
Ashley Huskins and Rejiyah Burley each scored eight points for Cass in the rivalry matchup.
The two teams stayed on even footing throughout the first half and most of the third quarter until Woodland forged a 27-24 lead with two and a half minutes left in the frame. That’s when the Lady Wildcats were ignited offensively behind two free throws and a 2-pointer by Sydney Boyd, a deuce by Aubri Branch and two free throws by Harris. The scoring barrage pushed the Lady Wildcats to a 35-24 lead that exploded in the final quarter to 22 points.
Head coach Kyle Morgan said Woodland’s effort was a key to its victory.
“I thought we played with some energy and some intensity, particularly in the second half, and that gave us a chance to get some easies and build some positive momentum,” Morgan said.
Both teams employed a deliberate style in the early going when Marissa Dubose broke the scoring ice with a bucket to give Woodland a 2-0 lead. Katie Cheek added a free throw that was answered by Cass High’s Hannah Kirkpatrick, closing the score to 3-2 in favor of the home team.
Harris hit the game’s first trey and Woodland held a 7-2 lead after Dubose tacked on a free throw.
Burley scored two buckets for Cass, sandwiched around a 3-pointer by Brooke Hummel, and Woodland led 10-6. Huskins hit her first bucket of the night to close to 10-8, but Harris and Gabrielle Bradley closed the period with four points and Woodland held a 14-8 lead after a full quarter of play.
Cass opened the second quarter with a bucket by Camey Kirkland and Huskins and the Lady Colonels closed to 14-12. Woodland closed the quarter with an 8-6 run to go into halftime leading 22-18.
The Lady Colonels traded buckets early with Woodland in the third quarter but, trailing 24-20, tied their hosts with a second-chance bucket by Kelsey Wright and two free throws by Burley.
A free throw and a bucket by Branch gave Woodland some breathing room at 27-24 and the Lady Wildcats slowly took control of the game.
The victory allowed Woodland to even its series this year with Cass, which won their first meeting on Dec. 14 by a 41-38 score.
“I was real proud of the kids, especially with it being senior night and our seniors getting their last chance to play that local rivalry and getting a win,” Morgan said. “I’m really happy for them. The seniors have completely bought in to everything we’ve tried to do and I’m going to miss them for sure. However, we’ve still got a lot of basketball to play.”
Woodland’s seniors include Dubose, Cheek, Harris, Hummel, Jasmin Askew, Carly Bucy and Idraiah Thompson.
The Lady Wildcats have a tough lineup ahead next week as they try to close the deal on a favorable sub-region seeding.
Woodland visits Rome on Tuesday and Paulding County on Wednesday, then hosts Allatoona on Thursday. All three games have a 6 p.m. tipoff and the opponents currently are No. 3, No. 2 and No. 4 in the region, respectively.
“We have a two-game lead with three games to go for that No. 1 seed and the possibility of hosting a first-round game of the region tournament and a chance to go to state,” Morgan said. “We’ll see how we do.”
Excel 51, Mount Zion 43
Senior Bekah Bell scored 17 points to lead Excel to a 51-43 victory over region foe Mt. Zion.
The victory was a big boost for the Lady Eagles, who are battling for the No. 4 seed in their region.
Head coach Eric Harris said Excel was able to capitalize when foul trouble sidelined Mount Zion’s leading scorer in the second quarter.
“We put pressure on them when their big girl was in foul trouble,” Harris said. “Our goal was to get a lead while she was out, and we were able to take advantage of her absence and do that.”
He said the team used a full-court press and man-to-man pressure and also assigned freshman Brighton McCollum to Mount Zion’s scorer.
“Brighton’s job was to deny her the whole game and she did a great job,” Harris said. “Brighton is a good bit shorter, but she stayed with her and my hat’s off to our freshman for her play.”
Harris said the team was able to turn to its pressure game because it has developed some depth this season.
“We were able to move some players in and out and save our legs,” he said. “We weren’t able to do that before. Now we can and it paid off against Mount Zion (10-10, 3-7).”
The two teams were tied at 9-all after a full quarter of play but the Lady Eagles used a 13-6 run to grab a 22-15 halftime lead. Excel outscored Mt. Zion 15-12 in the third quarter for a 37-27 differential after three periods of play and then withstood a 16-14 run by their region foe in the final quarter to pick up the victory.
Harris said Bell also stood tall for Excel, leading the team in scoring and also assuming ball handling duties late in the game when point guard Andrea Taylor, who scored nine points, fouled out, and Lexie Robinson, who dropped 15 points for the winners, went down with an injury.
“It was senior night and Bekah and Caroline Moore, our other senior, were big for us,” he said. “It’s been a joy having both of them and I’ll hate to see them go. Bekah had probably her best game of the year today.”
The coach said Excel, 6-15 overall and 4-6 in its region, entered the evening ranked 25th out of 40 schools in single A and needs to move up to the top 16.
“We’ll slide up some because Mount Zion has won 10 games,” he said. “We have two more region games and we’ll just have to see how those games affect us.”
Excel has region games remaining against Christian Heritage at 6 p.m. Friday at home and an as-yet unscheduled contest against Trion on the road.
“If we could finish as a No. 4 seed, we would play a No. 5 seed on the other side, making us the higher seed in the first round,” he said. “We are hoping to take steps toward doing things the program hasn’t done before.”
Harris said one of the keys to the team’s success this season has been the hard play by the players.
“Sometimes the fans come up and tell me how the girls are playing hard,” he added.
Adairsville 37, Ringgold 35
Adairsville won a defensive struggle against Ringgold, 37-35, and kept its grip on the No. 2 seed in its region.
Stephanie Kuhrt shouldered the offensive load for the Lady Tigers with 18 points while grabbing four rebounds.
The two teams put their defensive skills on display early as they each tallied just nine points in the first quarter. The Lady Tigers shaded Ringgold in the second frame with a 7-6 performance that let Adairsville go into halftime with a 16-15 lead.
The Lady Tigers put together their best offensive effort in the third quarter, scoring 14 points while allowing 10 points by the visiting team for a 30-25 tally after three full periods of play. Ringgold scored 10 points in the final quarter while allowing seven points by the home team.
Other contributors to the Adairsville effort were Mallorie Collum with eight points and four rebounds; Kelsy Hice, five points; Victoria Davis, three points; Julia Roberson, two points; and Paige Cole, one point and eight rebounds.
The Lady Tigers improved to 12-8 overall and are 9-2 in their region.
Adairsville returns to the hardwood on Tuesday when the Lady Tigers take on Sonoraville in a game that will go a long way toward determining the region’s No. 2 seed.
Presently the Lady Tigers have that position but the Lady Phoenix are one game back with an 8-3 region record. Sonoraville, which is 15-5 overall, was scheduled to play North Cobb, a non-region opponent, on Saturday.