One of the goals this season for the Banks County High School girls’ basketball team was to win the Region 8-AA championship. But as head coach Steven Shedd said after last Friday’s region title game vs. Rabun County, there had to be a winner and a loser of the game. The Lady Leopards’ bid for the region crown fell just short in a 78-67 loss.

But, the second-place finish in the region tournament gives the Lady Leopards (19-8) a home game in the first round of the Class AA state playoffs, which is something the first-year head coach doesn’t overlook.

They will host South Atlanta this Friday at 6 p.m.

“There are many, many teams in this state that would love to be able to host a playoff game at state that aren’t getting that opportunity,” Shedd said. “We definitely recognize that and we’re thankful for it. We’re just going to get back to work.”

Shedd expects Region 8-AA to represent well in the state playoffs. He also expects to see a lot of speed and athleticism from playoff opponents.

“We’re going to have to prepare for that,” he said. “We’ll try to simulate as best we can in practice. We’ll just see how it goes.”

Against Rabun County, Shedd said the team has a lot “to be proud of.” Jaycie Bowen led the Lady Leopards with 17 points in the championship game. Gabby Kennedy finished with 13 points. Maddie Thomas added 11 points and Allison Smith had 10 points.

“We don’t look at ourselves as losers,” Shedd said. “We feel like we played hard. We gave it all we had at the very end. They just played better than us today.

“We’ve split with them the two games before that. They just happened to get us today.”

Rabun County scored 44 first-half points, which Shedd said, “What can you do?”

“I give them credit, but I am proud of our girls for what they accomplished,” he said. “With the tough non-region schedule that we had, to come out of it in as good of shape as we did I thought was great.

“To get through the injuries that we had this year, I’m proud of that. To get by some of the wins that we had, it’s just been a battle the whole way. Nothing has come easy. They never gave up in this ball game. They never give up. They’re tough. They’re gritty. I’ve said that before and I think that’s going to be to our advantage when we get to state.”

Bowen and Smith were named to the All-Region team for 8-AA. Kailynn Gilstrap, Kennedy and Taylor Parson received honorable mentions.

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