The first-year Lady Cat coach said it was an emotional breakthrough for both the players and program as a whole.
“A very big win, especially for the seniors and just for the team and overall program. It’s a win that we really needed. I think everybody had butterflies all day [Tuesday]. I was nervous, they were nervous. We just wanted to get over this hump right here, and we finally got a berth in the state tournament. We accomplished another major goal for us,” Bailey said.
VR (20-7) led by eight at halftime with a 30-22 advantage, but the Lady Wolves outscored it, 8-3, in the third to pull within three points. The Lady Cats were able to hang on, though, outscoring Rome by a 17-14 count during the final eight minutes.
Senior forward Britney Wright led Villa Rica with 14 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots, while senior guard Rhianna Warren added 10 points and three steals. Kayland Crowder finished with eight points and Shamaya Evans pulled down a team-high eight rebounds to go along with four points.
Villa Rica will now try to earn a region tournament crown, as it faces the Paulding County/Woodland winner on Friday night at 6 at Allatoona in the semifinals.
And knowing that his ball club is already in the big dance, Bailey is hopeful it will calm some of those nerves and allow for it to play at its highest level.
“It feels great. It kind of set in after the game was over. We came out thinking that, ‘Hey, we’re on a roll now. We are ready to do what we came here to do,’” Bailey said.
In other prep basketball action from Tuesday:
LaGrange girls 45, Carrollton 39: The Lady Trojans (18-9) endured a wacky night in Columbus during their quarterfinal setback in the Region 5-AAAA Tournament, where a leak in the gymnasium roof forced a delay in the second quarter of action and ultimately led to the two teams having to pack up and finish the game at Jordan High School.
Carrollton coach Shon Thomaston said the distraction wasn’t the reason for his team suffering a season-ending loss, but it was something he’s never dealt with in his coaching career.
“It was a wild night, but it’s been one of those roller-coaster seasons for us. Once again, we played well enough in spurts but didn’t play well enough for the whole game. Again, that’s been our season-long story that we just haven’t really put together a full game,” Thomaston said.
The game was tied at 23-all in the second quarter when it was decided to switch gymnasiums and the Lady Grangers (19-6) used an early third-quarter run to give themselves a little cushion.
“The second quarter was when the roof started leaking really bad and it was just one of those situations that I’ve never been in before where they were putting towels down on the court — and I’m talking during live play — once we ended up on that end of the floor, they would remove the towels and we’d play. Then when we went to the other end, they’d put the towels back down there. It was just one of those inconveniences in the game,” Thomaston said. “Then we ended up switching venues, and it kind of reminded me of the Super Bowl when the lights went out.”
Carrollton was led by junior forward Brooklyn Emory with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while sophomores Faith Swint and Alecia North added 12 and nine points, respectively.
Thomaston said it’s heartbreaking to see the season end prematurely for the seniors, but the Lady Trojan coach noted that it should serve as a learning tool for the younger players.
“I didn’t want to be turning in jerseys [Tuesday]. That’s disappointing. It’s been a long time since we didn’t make an appearance in the state tournament. I hate it for my seniors more than anybody because those kids were around during some of the good times and I just hate to see them go out on this note,” Thomaston said.
Jackson, Atlanta boys 63, Haralson County 53: The Rebels (2-24) saw their season come to an end in the play-in game of the Region 4-AAA Tournament at Douglass High School in Atlanta despite a huge night from senior Seth Neeley.
The 6-foot-6 forward scored 19 points with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots in his final prep game, while Jake Carnes added 11 points and Lane Fortune finished with 10.
St. Francis boys 83, Mt. Zion 38: The Eagles (10-16) also had their season come to a close in the Region 6-A Tournament on Tuesday.
The Carrollton High School boys’ soccer team earned a 2-0 win over Northgate in its season opener on Tuesday evening at Grisham Stadium, getting a pair of goals from Henry Hernandez.
The Trojans (1-0) took a 1-0 lead 12 minutes into the game on a Hernandez goal off a corner kick, then added some insurance when Hernandez scored on a long throw-in, with Tyler Edwards getting the assist in the second half.
The Carrollton girls suffered a 1-0 setback to Northgate in the opening game Tuesday.