Redan girls surviving in upset-filled tournament

On Wednesday's day of quarterfinals upsets, the top seeds in the Region 6-AAAA girls basketball tournament -- top-ranked Chamblee, three-time defending state champion Southwest DeKalb and No. 2 seed Marist -- had their seasons come to an end.

But seventh-ranked Redan survived.

And the Raiders (22-3) are still rolling after a dramatic 58-56 victory against Mays in Friday’s semifinals. Redan will face Miller Grove in Saturday’s region championship game at 7 p.m. at Tucker. Miller Grove, which knocked out Chamblee in the quarterfinals, beat Carver-Atlanta 47-37 in the other semifinal.

“To be honest with you, I think that made us a little bit more focused, to come over and be prepared to do what we need to do as a team,” Redan coach Jerry Jackson said of Wednesday’s quarterfinal surprises. “It’s a misfortune for Chamblee, which was undefeated all season long. I think they need to come up with another system because they had one bad night and can’t play anymore. I don’t think that’s really fair. My team, they’re doing what they deserve. They’re working hard, they leave it all in the gym every day, and they get rewarded for it.”

Freshman Brea Elmore scored all seven of her points in the final 35 seconds of the game as Redan overcame a 56-51 deficit in the final minute against Mays.

Redan appeared to have taken control with an 11-0 run that gave it a 47-41 lead with five minutes to play, but Mays fought back and regained the lead at 51-49 on a basket by Charnay Sanford with 2:18 remaining. The lead was up to five points at 56-51 when Sanford made two free throws with 45.1 seconds left.

Elmore scored a quick basket to cut the lead to 56-53. After a Mays turnover, Elmore made a 3-pointer to tie the game with 18 seconds left. Mays turned the ball over again, and Elmore scored the winning points on a short jumper from the right baseline with 7.8 seconds to play.

“We always tell them to step up, tell them to play like they’re not freshmen because they don’t play like freshmen at all,” said senior Kierra Paige, who made four 3-pointers and led Redan with 22 points. “They’re a great group of girls, and they’re only going to get better.”

It was a tough loss for Mays (15-9), which was led by Mariah Dean’s 22 points. But Mays has something that Chamblee, Marist and Southwest DeKalb don’t -- the chance to keep playing -- because the top four teams from each region advance to the state tournament. Mays will meet Carver in the consolation game at 4 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re in the toughest region in the state, so we’ve been playing and beating up on each other all season,” Mays coach Natasha Harrigan said. “We’re in a region where on any given night, anybody can beat anybody.”

The boys6-AAAA tournament has gone as expected, with all of the top seeds (Miller Grove, Tucker, Southwest DeKalb and Chamblee) advancing to the semifinals. Miller Grove, the state’s top-ranked team, pulled away from Chamblee in the fourth quarter to win 55-36 on Friday and advance to Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. championship game.