Standout Zoesha Smith scored a game-high 17 points, but it may have been freshman Akirria Mountain who played the most crucial part early in Glynn Academy’s 50-30 win over Richmond Hill in the semifinal round of the Region 2-6A Tournament.
Mountain drained two 3-pointers Friday at Brunswick Square Garden, and let several more fly, opening up room for the Terrors’ bigs in the paint.
For much of the season, Glynn’s range on the offensive end has effectively extended to 15-foot jumpers by Chmayia Miller, but Mountain’s green light from distance gave Smith and La’trinty Best ample room to operate inside the arc.
“That’s Akirria Mountain, she’s been good for us all season on JV,” said Glynn head coach Sharnesha Smith. “She listens, she wants to learn, she puts pressure on defense, and as a freshman, you can live with the mistakes as long as she’s being aggressive.
“That’s what we have her in the game for, and that’s exactly what she did tonight.”
Mountain’s willingness to pull the trigger from long range pulled Richmond Hill out of the zone defense it appeared comfortable sitting in to congest the paint.
Even when the outside shot wasn’t falling, it gave Glynn an opportunity to clean up on the offensive boards for easy putback baskets.
On one possession, a deep 3 from Mountain rimmed out and into the waiting arms of Best, who scored while drawing a foul.
She missed the ensuing free throw, only for Smith to swoop in for another offensive board and putback to give the Terrors a 22-12 lead with 3:27 in the second quarter.
“Richmond Hill made us work hard inside, but I just think getting more shots up on the perimeter helps our bigs inside, putting them in great rebounding position,” Sharnesha Smith said.
Glynn led by 11 at halftime, and once it cranked up its defensive intensity, the Terrors were able to cruise through much of the second half. Richmond Hill only scored four points in the third quarter.
The lead was 18 to begin the fourth before a quick 8-0 run, six points by Smith, put the finishing touches on the victory.
“I always preach discipline, I preach work ethic, and just being disciplined at what we’re supposed to do,” Said Sharnesha Smith. “Sitting down is the hardest thing for these kids, millennials, to understand on defense.
“Once we realize we’re not sitting like we’re supposed to, we’re not working like we’re supposed to, we did that in the second half. We made the adjustment, we talked about it, and it just worked out for us.”
With the win, Glynn advances to the region championship game against Bradwell Institute on Friday at 6:30 p.m., and guarantees it’ll open the state playoffs at home in the Glass Palace.
Richmond Hill will play Brunswick at 3:30 p.m. in the consolation game.