Glynn Academy successfully weathered the storm without Zoesha Smith.
After losing La’Trinty Best, the Terrors did just enough to hold on for a 37-35 victory and the girls’ Region 2-6A title Friday against Bradwell Institute.
With two of Glynn’s “Big 3” in foul trouble most of the evening, it needed a strong defensive performance to compensate. The Terrors had been 0-2 this season when held to fewer than 40 points in a game.
Likewise, the Tigers have proven to be plenty potent offensively this year, entering the contest averaging just shy of 53 points, led by senior Jasmine Blevins and her 19 points a game.
Blevins hit her season average in each of the regular-season meetings against Glynn, but the Terrors made sure to make life difficult for her in the region championship game by deploying Laneia Taylor as a personal defender.
Taylor stuck on Blevins’ hit the length of the court, face guarding her all over the floor and denying Bradwell the opportunity to run its offense through its best player. It resulted in just 14 points in a frustrating night for the senior.
“Laneia Taylor has been our best defender all season long,” said Glynn head coach Sharnesha Smith. “She’s guarded every best player we’ve come in contact with all season long, and we trust Nia, the girls trust Nia, the coaching staff, we trust Nia to take care of business. We know it’s hard to contain someone for a full game, but as long as you limit her touches, or anyone’s touches for that matter, we’ll stay in the game with anyone.”
With Blevins on lock, Bradwell struggled to generate the looks it has through much of the season, including Wednesday when it knocked down five 3-pointers in its semifinal against Brunswick. Only one triple fell for the Tigers on Friday.
Despite the success defensively, Glynn was unable to pull away as its own standout, Smith, was forced to the bench early in the third quarter after picking up her fourth foul.
When Smith left the court, the Terrors led 24-16 with six minutes remaining in the third. She reentered with 3:17 in the contest and Glynn up 37-28.
But minutes later, Best picked up her fifth foul and was forced to exit the game with 10 points. The Tigers used the opportunity to trap even more aggressively in the backcourt in an effort to generate some easy buckets as the time wound down.
The Terrors didn’t score in the final two and a half minutes without Best on the court, but with the defensive intensity cranked up another notch, they were able to hold on.
“We talked about everyone stepping up,” Sharnesha Smith said. “We has a really good, really good week of practice. Really one of our best practices all year was yesterday. We stayed true to what we do discipline wise, defensively, and that’s what I thought that held them to as many points as we did.”
Glynn’s magical season now continues into next week when the girls return to the Glass Palace to host a first round matchup in the state playoffs against Region 3’s fourth seed.
It’ll mark the first time this millennium that the Terrors’ girls have won a region championship and the right to host the first two rounds.
“I think it’s ’95, so what, 24 years,” said Sharnesha Smith. “We’re slowly making history. Our goals all season, number one, was to win the Savannah Holiday Classic, we did that. Number two was to be the regular season champs. We did that. Number three was the region champs, we did that.
“So now we’ve got one more to go.”