North Cobb took control with a 13-0 run that began in the first quarter and rolled to a 56-37 victory over visiting Colquitt County in the first round of the Class AAAAAAA girls basketball tournament Friday.
Azonya Austin scored 17 points to lead North Cobb (20-8), which advanced to the second round for the first time since 2014. The Warriors had lost four consecutive first-round games by a total of eight points, including two against Colquitt County – 49-48 in overtime in 2017 and 45-41 in 2016. Next week, the Warriors will play fourth-ranked North Forsyth (26-2), which advanced Friday night with a 68-46 victory over Lakeside-DeKalb.
Austin was joined in double figures by Madison Edge with 15 points and Sydney Thomas with 13. All three players made the all-region team in 3-AAAAAAA.
“Hats off to these girls,” North Cobb coach John Speeney said. “These seniors have been through a lot. It’s been tough, and they’ve felt a lot of heartbreak. So they’re excited. They’ve wanted this, and they really played hard tonight. I’m very proud of them.”
Edge was the key early for North Cobb, scoring eight points in the first quarter, including six during an 11-0 run at the end of the period that turned a 7-2 deficit into a 13-7 lead. Austin’s two free throws early in the second quarter extended the run to 13-0 and the lead to 15-7. Colquitt County (21-6) cut the deficit to five points on a three-point play by Camille Singletary with 3:27 left in the half, but North Cobb built the lead back to 10 by halftime.
“Madison’s a really crafty player,” Speeney said. “She plays the four for us, and Madison at the four is really a mismatch in favor of us because she can use her athleticism, and she gets to the basket really well. She’s a very smart, headsy player, she’s very unselfish, and she plays good defense. She does get overshadowed a lot, and it’s a shame because she’s an excellent player. We’re glad to have her.”
Colquitt County never got closer than eight points in the second half. Austin’s two free throws with 35.8 seconds remaining provided the final points of the night and gave the Warriors their biggest lead.
Colquitt County’s Janiah Ellis, the Region 1 player of the year, finished with 10 points, half of her 20.2-point average coming into the game. Carliss Johnson led the Packers with 12 points on three 3-pointers and three free throws.
“We knew we had to slow down [Ellis],” Speeney said. “We had a couple of things for her, and we had something that actually started working, so we kind of went back to the well a lot to get the ball out of her hands. We noticed something on film, and it did work. So the kids played great, and they executed the game plan.”
Colquitt County – 7-13-15-2 – 37
North Cobb – 13-17-16-10 – 56
Colquitt County (37): Camille Singletary 6, Carliss Johnson 12, Janiah Ellis 10, Audreyanna Rosland 4, Gracie Belle Paulk 5.
North Cobb (56): Azonya Austin 17, Madison Edge 15, Dayuna Colvin 7, Sydney Thomas 13, Chisom Eziomume 4.
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