Thomasville Times Enterprise

January 17, 2014

Following their lead

Stars Johnson, Jones lead THS girls past Cook

Jamie Wachter

THOMASVILLE — For the first four minutes, the Thomasville High girls basketball team could do little wrong.

For pretty much the entire game, Bulldog stars Ricarsha Johnson and Danisha Jones maintained that as they led THS past visiting Cook 45-34 on Friday.

The Bulldogs, who moved to 11-5 and 2-2 in Region 1-AA, raced out to a 14-1 lead in the first 4:10. Jones spearheaded that early push as she scored the first four points and the final four. Haley McNeil also added four points as Thomasville was beating the Hornets down the court for easy buckets.

“When you’ve got ‘D’ and she’s playing and running the floor, you don’t have to draw up any plays,” Thomasville coach Antonio Wade said. “She came out playing fast and her teammates had energy too.

“It was a good win as a team, and that was good to get back on the winning track.”

While the Hornets (12-4, 3-2) settled down and clawed within 16-14 just two minutes into the second, Cook had no answer for Thomasville’s pair of juniors. Following the 9-0 run to open the second quarter to pull within two, Jones answered with a free throw and later added another basket on her way to 11 first-half points. McNeil’s 3-pointer that followed staked Thomasville to a 10-point lead.

Leading by seven at the break, the Bulldogs maintained that advantage throughout the third as Jones outscored Cook 10-9 in the period. The junior post finished with 23 points and nine rebounds to go along with four blocked shots.

When Jones wasn’t inflicting damage, Johnson usually was. The Bulldogs’ point guard filled up the stat sheet with seven points, 10 assists, six steals and five assists.

“She played under control,” Wade said. “She played a great game. If she can give us 10 to 13 points and five to 10 assists, that’s a good game for her.

“Right now, she’s been playing well. She’s really controlling the tempo and understanding what I want from her. And I need that.

“I need her and ‘D’ to play well. When they play well, everybody else is more comfortable.”

Cook, which pulled within 36-31 early in the fourth on a Precious Walls putback, remained in the game on the strength of that offensive rebounding. The Hornets pulled down 24 offensive rebounds in the game on the way to 17 second-chance points. Elesha Foster led Cook with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Mercedes Clowers added nine and nine.

“We weren’t boxing out and that’s partly my fault,” Wade added. “We’ve been playing so much in a row that we really haven’t worked on that particular fundamental at practice. When we get the opportunity to get some practices in back-to-back, that’s something I’m going to really harp on.

“We should be outrebounding everybody we play with our size. We’re just not boxing out. That’s our biggest issue.”

Cook boys    36

Thomasville    34

Trailing most of the game, Cook used a floater from Jeremiah Smith at the buzzer to edge Thomasville.

The Bulldogs, who fell to 8-9 and 3-2, led 34-31 entering the fourth and with the Hornets sagging off in a zone, Thomasville point guard Kenny Hayes held the ball near midcourt for about four minutes.

After the Bulldogs then missed a shot with 3:15 left in the game, Cook (11-5, 3-2) responded with a three-point possession as Thomas Rountree hit one of two free throws and then Smith grabbed an offensive rebound and later tied it with 2:22 to go.

Following a pair of Thomasville misses, Cook took over with two minutes left and held the ball for the final shot, calling timeouts with 14.6 and 7.1 seconds left to set up the winner from Smith.

That was just the third lead for Cook as Smith put the Hornets up for the first time with 5:41 left in the third. He later gave Cook a 30-28 lead about three minutes later on his way to a game-high 19.

The Bulldogs raced past Cook early as they opened a 10-2 lead in the first five minutes with center Andrew Parker scoring six early points. Henri Abrams added a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, as he paced Thomasville with 11 points.