The Upson-Lee Lady Knights were coming off two tough defeats to Spalding and Mary Persons, even though the team overall seemed to be playing better basketball. Just two weeks ago, Upson-Lee had the North Clayton Lady Eagles on the ropes up in College Park. However, the Lady Knights struggled in the fourth quarter, allowing the Lady Eagles to come back and earn an overtime victory over Upson-Lee.
On Tuesday night, UL welcomed their region foe from Clayton County to the ULHS gymnasium, looking for a much needed sub-region victory. The Lady Knights defense suffocated North Clayton for three quarters, and got a big 16-point and 11-rebound game from junior KeOndra Ausbrooks on their way to earning a 52-47 victory.
“I’ve been telling the girls we are getting better,” said UL head coach Bart Phillips. “I really felt like we took some strides over the last two games, even though we came out on the losing end. Sometimes for young players it can be difficult to see the results even when not winning ball games. The girls have continued to play hard and work hard in practice. Tonight we were able to put together a good four quarters of basketball and get a victory over a tough team. I think this win will give us some confidence, letting the players see some results from their hard work. We are going to continue to work hard and get ready for a tough Griffin team on Friday.”
The Lady Knights played a packed in 2-3 zone to start out the contest defensively. Upson-Lee forced the Lady Eagles to settle for long jump shots, rather than letting North Clayton get the ball into the post, something that allowed for the Lady Eagles to notch the come back win two weeks ago.
The Lady Eagles knocked down two three-pointers early in the contest, but from that point on struggled from the perimeter. Upson-Lee’s KeOndra Ausbrooks owned the paint area, grabbing rebounds on both the defensive and offensive sides of the court.
The Lady Knights featured a little different starting line up in the game, getting great minutes from Kia Willis, Jacarra Cherry, and Ja’Leesa Gibson. Three of the Lady Knights regular starters were benched during the first half for undisclosed reasons.
Behind the play of Ausbrooks in the paint and the long range sharp shooting of senior Jasmine Davis, the Lady Knights held a 16-12 lead on North Clayton.
In the second quarter of action, the Lady Knights began to extend their 2-3 zone defensively, forcing some turnovers by North Clayton. The Lady Knights held the North Clayton squad to just six points in the second quarter and only seven points in the third quarter.
The trio of Ausbrooks, Davis, and Gibson kept the Lady Eagles off the boards, limiting many of their opportunities to just one shot offensively. With just 10 seconds remaining in the first half, Kia Willis drilled a deep three-pointer, giving the Lady Knights a somewhat comfortable 26-18 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, both teams seemed to come out of the locker room a little sloppy. However, even though they struggled offensively in the third quarter, the Lady Knights continued to play stellar defense, limiting the Lady Eagles to just seven points. At the end of the third quarter UL led North Clayton 36-25.
After holding a similar lead entering the fourth quarter in their first contest, the Lady Knights allowed North Clayton to tie the game at the end of regulation. On Tuesday night, Upson-Lee again allowed a big quarter offensively by the Lady Eagles, giving up 22 points. But this time the Lady Knights scored 16 points of their own, keeping the Lady Eagles at a distance. When the final buzzer sounded, UL finished with a 52-47 sub-region victory.
KeOndra Ausbrooks paced UL with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Jasmine Davis also finished with a double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Demeshia Russell added seven points, four steals, and five assists. Kia Willis and Kiashona Carter each tallied five points, Ja’Leesa Gibson finished with four points, while Takeela Gray and Jacarra Cherry each chipped in with two points in the victory.
The Lady Knights will travel to Griffin tonight for a big sub-region showdown. The last time the two teams met, the Lady Bears thought they had earned a seven-point victory over Upson-Lee, but a protest filed by UL overturned the decision, giving the Lady Knights a 1-0 forfeit victory. The Lady Bears were forced to forfeit the contest due to playing two players more than five quarters in a single day. Two of the Griffin players played two quarters in a junior varsity game prior to the varsity game in which they played all four quarters. A player is only allowed to play more than five quarters in a single day if all quarters are played in the same game, such as a multiple overtime game.
The two teams have not met since the controversial decision, so some bad blood may be boiling over for tonight’s contest. Tip off for the game is slated for 6 p.m. tonight in Griffin.