The upset-minded Winder-Barrow girls’ basketball team gave heavily-favored Harrison nearly all it could handle Friday, Feb. 14, in the first round of the GHSA Class AAAAAA playoffs in Kennesaw.
But in the end the difference was that the Hoyas were much more efficient shooting the ball, as they held off the Bulldoggs 60-55. Harrison (23-4, the No. 2 seed from Region 6) advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and was scheduled to visit Lovejoy on Wednesday, Feb. 19. Winder-Barrow, the No. 3 seed from Region 8, finished the year 17-12.
“We were able to get their best player in foul trouble and did a good job possessing the ball, but at the end of the day we just didn’t shoot like we needed to,” said Winder-Barrow coach Kimberly Garren, whose team finished just 31 percent from the field and struggled mightily from the free throw line, going 15-of-32. “That was the difference in the game. They converted their opportunities and we didn’t. But our girls played their butts off against a strong team. Anytime you can play with competition like that, it helps you. Hopefully our girls will continue to put in more work and be able to take care of those types of teams next year.
Junior Kiona Lindsay led the Bulldoggs with 24 points, while sophomore Taniyah Parrish closed out her strong season with 19.
“(Lindsay) finished at the rim really well and I thought we did a good job handling them size-wise,” Garren said. “The person guarding her was much smaller and she realized that. She got to the rim and finished strong, got some and-ones and did well completing those.”
It was the final high school game for three Winder-Barrow seniors — Daisia Stillwell, Torrie Sauls and Keirsten Jackson, and Garren said each of them made significant strides each year with the program.
Winder-Barrow made its fifth consecutive trip to the state playoffs, though it lost in the first round for a second straight year, and Garren is hopeful the team will come back strong next season ready for another postseason run. Parrish and Lindsay will highlight the key returners while twins Keonna and Teonna Hamler will also be back for their senior seasons. Freshman Trinity Maxey and sophomore Shauna Bolt were among the other players who logged significant minutes, while other freshmen worked their way up to varsity roles later in the season.
“We’ll have a lot of our scoring and speed back,” Garren said. “This group put in a lot of work during the offseason and never really had any time off, and a lot of them are hungry and ready to get back in the gym right away. We’re going to be doing some things differently this summer and competing in a couple of showcases next season so I’m excited about that. We’re looking for big-time leadership to take this program to the next level and I think our upcoming seniors and juniors are going to be up to the task.”