A-Public Girls: #1 Taylor County vs. #2 Turner County

30-0, Region 4

Only Taylor County and Class AA’s Wesleyan have captured 10 girls basketball state titles and the undefeated Vikings could become the first team to reach 11 with a victory on Thursday. Taylor County’s first five state crowns were won in consecutive years following its first championship in 1968. The team added four more between 1988 and 1995 before capturing their 10th state titles 12 years ago during the 2003 season. The strength of this year’s team and what could make this one of the most talented teams the school has seen starts with Rasheka Simmons. The Vikings got off to a dreadful start in their semifinals matchup with Terrell County and trailed 4-3 heading into the closing seconds of the first quarter. Simmons continued her aggressive style of play and before Terrell County knew what hit them, the score was 26-7 in the Vikings favor after a massive 23-3 scoring run. Simmons finished the semifinals with 19 points and teammate Kelsie Towns hurt the defense with her outside shooting, netting four threes and turning in 18 points. Defensively, Taylor County is not afraid to gamble and opponents must avoid any lazy passes that the Vikings’ speedy guards will take coast-to-coast for easy baskets. The Vikings lost 25 combined games in the two seasons prior to this year’s run, which makes the level of dominance that much more impressive. No opponent this year has been able to solve Taylor County’s defense and a 13-point margin of victory over Dooly County in the Region 4 championship game is the closest any opponent has come. Taylor County has outscored its 30 opponents by a combined 1,101 points this season (36.7 points per game). Sophomore Tiara Gibson’s efficiency in the post while playing alongside Mariel Towns and Kourtney Long is another element the Vikings take advantage of.



Region 2, 28-2

Turner County carries a 14-game win streak into the finals and can capture the program’s first state title if the Rebels can shock the Vikings for a 15th straight victory on Thursday. Turner County’s win over Randolph-Clay in the semifinals shared a similar theme to the slow start Taylor County saw in its win over Terrell County. The Rebels led just 7-6 after the first quarter but outscored Randolph-Clay 27-19 in the second and third quarters before capping off a 52-45 victory. Brishuana Barnes was the second leading scorer with nine points and Mylashia Yancey ran the show. Yancey is a versatile 5-foot-8 guard that has led the team with 20.7 points per game and will need another memorable performance to give Turner County the lift they need against the seemingly impenetrable Taylor County defense. Yancey opened the playoffs with 24 points against Hawkinsville and followed it with a 36-point performance in their 73-54 quarterfinals victory over Dooly County. Yancey drew a season-high 16 free-throw attempts in the semifinals but connected on just 7-of-16 (44 percent), well-below her season average of 66 percent foul shooting. Taylor Daniels and Barnes face the defensive challenge of stopping Taylor County’s run and gun offense and their rebounding will be a huge factor throughout the course of the game. Barnes pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds in the quarterfinals and is averaging 12 points and 13 boards in her last three games. Daniels posted a playoff double-double in the first round with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Xariah Office can provide a spark at point guard but will need to focus on protecting the ball against the Taylor County defense. After struggling with eight turnovers in each of the first two playoff games, Office scored eight points and cut the turnovers down to four in the semifinals.

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