The Douglas County girls faced their toughest task since the mid-season Christmas tournament on Friday. Not only were the Lady Tigers facing Miller Grove, who defeated No. 10 Creekview in the second round, they were also playing away from home for the first time in the AAAA State Playoffs at the Coliseum on the campus of the University of West Georgia.
Miller Grove jumped out to an early lead by moving the ball well on offense and pressuring the ball, full court, on defense. The Lady Tigers, however, went on a 7-2 run led by Monique Wells, who scored six of her 12 points in the first quarter, that cut the lead to two points.
The first quarter was capped off by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by LaTara Spriggs to give Douglas County a 16-15 lead.
In the second quarter the two teams battled back and forth with neither team building a lead bigger than four points. Senior Kristina Wells hit two 3-pointers late to keep the Lady Tigers even at the half, 28-28.
In the second half head coach Chet Forsh made an adjustment that would change the game completely. “We adjusted to their flash, with a 2-3 zone,” said Forsh. In this defensive set the Lady Tigers forced long jump shots and used their size advantage on the boards.
The adjustment held Miller Grove to a total of six points in the third quarter. With the defensive effort anchored by junior Christin Miller, who finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, the Lady Tigers took control and built an 11-point lead.
In the fourth quarter Douglas County continued to build on their lead, pushing it as high as 15 points. The Lady Wolverines made one last push by utilizing a full-court trap that helped to cut the lead to five.
It was the superb play of Wells, the Lady Tigers' senior leader, that stemmed the tide with a steal, layup and foul to regain the momentum. Wells finished with a game-high 26 points on a night where she told her coach that she wasn’t feeling well. “I touched her on the head and said ‘be healed,'" coach Forsh said with a smile.
As the final seconds ticked away in the 61-50 victory, the Lady Tigers celebrated the school’s first ever trip to the girl’s final four.
“We said when the season started we wanted to get on the Gwinnett Arena floor,” said Forsh after the game. “If we can win two in a row, we can do something really special.”
Still carrying an undefeated record at 30-0, the Douglas County girls will play for their spot in the championship game on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Gwinnett Arena.