In what appeared to be an insurmountable task, the Lady Bulldogs have turned a winless first half of the season into a region championship.
Struggling with depth issues, the Lady Dawgs limped into the Christmas break with an 0-6 record. It is said a team does not want to peak too early… Well, the Lady Dawgs took that to heart as they have gone undefeated since January, finishing the regular season with a 12-6 record. While being undefeated in the second half is important, final standings are determined in the region tournament. ECI would enter the tournament as the No. 2 seed.
Game 1 of the tournament would match the Dawgs against Screven County. The Dawgs’ offense would gel to near perfection against the Gamecocks. Prencis Harden continued to facilitate the offense, scoring 39 points with 14 rebounds. Fellow senior N’uturi Smith would score 20 points with 17 boards while freshman Gabbi Collins added another 17 points. Juniors Jada Steele and Ajaylah Holmes added 20 and 8 rebounds respectively. The Dawgs would advance to the championship game, sending Screven County packing 79-64.
The region championship game would see the Lady Dawgs face off against the Claxton Tigers. The Tigers’ defense seemed ready for the challenge. Where many Lady Dawgs contributed to the offensive game plan against Screven, Claxton was able to use their depth to limit the Bulldog offense. Harden continued her domination against region foes, scoring 30 points with 9 assists and 6 steals. Smith added 14 points with 9 rebounds. Holmes’s constant presence in the paint led her to pulling down 10 boards. It was a closer game, but the Lady Dawgs would prevail 64-55.
In a tale of two seasons, the Lady Dawgs managed to deal with the overwhelming adversity of starting the year 0-6, bouncing back to an undefeated second half of the season and a region championship. Next up will be the 14-9 Charlton County Lady Indians in the first round of the state playoffs. Look for the results of this matchup in next week’s Chronicle.