THOMASVILLE -- Thomas County Central's girls basketball team's quest for a Class AAAA title begins Friday in the friendly confines of the Lady Yellow Jackets' gymnasium against an unexpected opponent.

Stockbridge, which went through the Region 3 South sub-division 12-0, was upset in the region championship game by Warner Robins 60-32. But Central head coach Jenny Johnson is not fooled by her that title game outcome. She understands the Lady Tigers will present a stern test for her Lady Jackets.

"It's a pretty serious first game," Johnson said. "They're a small, quicktype pressing team."

The full-court pressure is a bit of a concern for Johnson following her team's performance in the Region 1 championship game against Ware County. Central was up by 20 points after the third quarter, but the Lady Gators fought back with a tenacious press that forced turnovers.

"We rarely have trouble with (the press)," Johnson said.

"But we did the other night, so we're gonna work on it."

Johnson also wasn't happy with her team's rebounding ability, in particular after watching tape.

"We didn't box out at all," Johnson said. "We're a decent rebounding team. We know we have to work on that. But these are things we can do."

One part of Central's game that did improve against Ware was its full-court pressure. Despite a five-minute span in which the Lady Gators made their run, Central's press was effective, forcing errant passes, resulting in numerous turnovers.

A key part of that press is the play of Ashley Huntley in the middle. Huntley is still working her way back from a knee injury that ender her junior year in December, 2003.

"I think she'll be fine," Johnson said. "I think she's getting better, it's mostly confidence."

Huntley is part of a talented senior class that includes four senior starters, Huntley, Trenisa McLemore, Brittany Freeman and Khadiga Anderson. Johnson expressed a special bond to her seniors, since she has seen them grow up since they were in sixth grade.

"I do love them to death," Johnson said.

The seniors are part of a team that reminds Johnson of a squad she had during Huntley's freshman year. It advanced to the Elite Eight in the Class AAAA playoffs. Johnson believes this year's squad, which sports a 21-3 record and hasn't lost since the Bear Brawl holiday tournament in December, has the potential to emulate that success. "Talent-wise, I think they're as good a team as I've had," said Johnson.

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