CANTON – The Athens Lady Hornets locked up the No. 2 seed out of District 14-4A with a 57-51 victory over the Canton Eaglettes Friday in Canton.
The contest was a district seeding tiebreaker heading into the bi-district round of the playoffs Jan. 11-13.
“We have been talking all year that we didn’t want to finish any less than second,” Coach Jeff Teague said. “We would have taken a district championship, but we liked that path through the playoffs.”
Athens is 18-8 overall and split the season series with the Eaglettes. They won the first meeting 54-30 and lost 45-42 at home Jan. 26.
“I think with the COVID year that 18 wins is a good start,” Teague said. “What we want is a deep run in the playoffs. We will settle for nothing less this year, and it is supposed to be our year. Hopefully, 18-8 is a good record to have us go as far as we can in the playoffs.”
Teague said the current playoff matchup is still to be determined. They are waiting for seeding tiebreakers and figuring out time, date and location.
He knows whoever they play in the first round will see a team ready to fight.
“It depends on who we play obviously,” Teague said. “We need to get the energy up and effort to clean up the boards instead of letting them get second chance opportunities. That will be huge against Farmersville since they are all six foot on the back line.”
In the win over Canton, Athens trailed until the 2:20 mark of the fourth quarter as McKenzie Hair drained a 3-pointer off an assist from Mimi McCollister for the 49-48 lead. It was sandwiched in between two 3-pointers from Karlie Cook.
“We could not buy a basket in the first half,” Teague said. “It looked like it would be the same in the third quarter, but then all of a sudden that is what we do. We got hot and if we hadn’t it could have been a different story obviously.”
In the third quarter, Athens cut a 10-point deficit down to four at 35-31 on a 3-pointer by McCollister. It was one of six 3-pointers on the night as she finished with 32 points.
In the first 16 minutes, Canton (14-11) relied on the shooting of Shameir Quimby and Amari Welch. The two combined for 25 of the 31 points as Welch had 13 points.
Teague said playing with seven players was tough as his team had to get into a rhythm. He praised the play of Janaya Roberts.
“Our energy was down a little bit. It was one of those things that we came in with seven players, and one I moved up from the JV just to fill out the roster for the playoffs,” Teague said. She (Janaya Roberts) came up big. She did exactly what she needed to do, and we shut down No. 24 (Amari Welch).”
Welch scored just six points in the second half to finish with 19 on the night.
Teague said when it came to halftime adjustments, McCollister came up huge in the game plan.
I will give McCollister some credit here,” Teague said. “She said, ‘Can we just run 50, which is our half-court man?’ I said sure why not and you have to get after it and they did. The halftime adjustment was McCollister.”
Teague was pleased to welcome back junior Janessa Kiser, who finished with eight points in her return.
“She (Janessa) was very rusty and fumbled some passes,” Teague said. “She battled and came up big and didn’t try to do too much. Having her back is enormous for us on the inside.”
Cook finished with nine points for the Lady Hornets. Teammate Kyra Dawson had five and Hair had three points.
Quimby finished with 21 points for Canton, while Ashtyn Norrell had eight and Kori Nicklas had three.
ATHENS (57) – Kyra Dawson 5, Mimi McCollister 32, Janessa Kiser 8, McKenzie Hair 3, Karlie Cook 9.
CANTON (51) – Ashtyn Norrell 8, Kori Nicklas 3, Shameir Quimby 21, Amari Welch 19.