LONGVIEW — There’s something to be said for playoff experience.

At least there was Friday night for the Athens Lady Hornets in a 62-57 Region II-AAA area round playoff victory over the Pleasant Grove Lady Hawks at Lobo Coliseum on the campus of Longview High School.

Down 33-32 after a lackluster first half, the Lady Hornets turned to senior post Morgan Mayse and junior guard Staci Hankins to rescue them the final two quarters. Mayse especially came up big, scoring 12 of her team-high 23 points in the second half and grabbing eight of her team-high 15 rebounds in the fourth quarter. Hankins had 17 points, including four three-pointers, before fouling out with 20 seconds left in the game.

“I knew at halftime if we were going to pull it out our two most experienced players were going to have to step up and lead us,” first-year AHS coach Keith Durrett said of Mayse and Hankins. “They came through for us like we needed.

“We escaped with one tonight.”

The Lady Hornets’ 13th straight victory and first playoff win since 2001 upped their season record to 23-9 and moves them into the regional quarterfinals against the winner of the Liberty-Eylau vs Crandall game in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader at Lobo Coliseum.

Pleasant Grove, which saw its season end at 14-16, led throughout most of the first half. With the Lady Hornets struggling shooting the ball, the Lady Hawks got hot near the end of the first quarter and went on an 11-0 run in the final 4:39 to lead 17-6.

The Lady Hornets were 1 of 15 from the floor in the opening quarter, 11 of which were three-pointers.

“We were tight to start the game, that’s for sure,” Durrett said. “I’m glad we were able to settle down as the game went on.”

Pleasant Grove exploited the Lady Hornet defense for repeated layups in the first half. Shay Dixon was the beneficiary of the AHS lapses, scoring 15 of her game-high 24 points in the half.

Dixon picked up the slack out of necessity when senior post Alyssa Pickett missed the entire second quarter after picking up two fouls in the opening period. Pickett finished with 15 points.

Mayse became more active inside for the Lady Hornets in the third quarter and began to draw fouls. She was 4 of 6 from the line in the quarter to go with a shot from underneath and a rare three-pointer from the top of the perimeter.

Free throws ultimately decided the game. The Lady Hornets were 23 of 26 — Mayse was 10 of 14) — and Pleasant Grove 7 of 18.

The Lady Hornets led 45-44 after the first quarter, but Pleasant Grove went up 48-45 to start the final period on a Lauren Cox layup and Pickett 10-foot jumper.

The lead see-sawed over the next three minutes until Asha Wilson put the Lady Hornets in the lead for good with a shot from underneath off a Hankins assist.

While Mayse and Hankins may have led the way for AHS, Wilson was the unsung hero. She scored eight points, twice fed the ball to Mayse for points in the fourth quarter and got a piece of a ball that resulted in an Alex Furr steal with 37 seconds left.

“I thought Asha really played well,” Durrett said. “She had some big plays there in the second half.”

Furr was fouled after gaining possession of the ball and went to the line and hit a free throw for a 59-55 lead.

Jasmine Blakemore and Furr each had a steal in the closing seconds to seal the deal.

The win halted the Lady Hornets’ five-game playoff losing streak.


Athens 6 26 13 17 — 62

Plesant Grove 17 16 11 13 — 57

ATHENS (62) — Staci Hankins 17; Alex Furr 10; Morgan Mayse 23; Asha Wilson 8; Jasmine Blakemore 3

PLEASANT GROVE (57) — Lauren Cox 7; Holland David 7; Alyssa Pickett 15; Shay Dixon 24; Saqualla Henry 2; Haley Herrington 2

Three-Pointers: Athens 6-24 — Hankins (4); Mayse, Blakemore. Pleasant Grove 1-4 — Dixon

Turnovers: Athens 13. Pleasant Grove 20

Free Throws: Athens 23-36 (Mayse 10-14). Pleasant Grove 7-18 (Davis 3-6)

Team Fouls: Athens 19. Pleasant Grove 27

Fouled Out: Athens 1 (Hankins). Pleasant Grove 2 (Cox, Everett)

Technical Fouls: Athens-none. Pleasant Grove-none

Records: Athens 23-9. Pleasant Grove 14-16

Estimated Attendance: 350

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