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Northeast advances following thriller

March 1, 2011
Northeast High School

Jasmine Curry threw her hands into the air, caught the ball’s awkward carom off the rim, tossed it back up and said a quick prayer.

Bounce, swish ... the ball hit the backboard and fell through the hoop before she could say, “Amen.”

As 5.2 seconds flashed on the game clock at her home Mark Smith Gymnasium, just one thought flashed through the Northeast forward’s head: “We’re on our way to Savannah.”

Made just before time expired Tuesday night, Curry’s last-second tip-in off a pair of misses helped the Raiderettes beat Dublin 43-41 in the second round of the GHSA Class AA playoffs. The win takes Northeast (26-3) to Savannah State on Saturday, where it will play Dodge County in the Elite Eight.

“If we play well, we’ll be OK,” Northeast head coach Alvin Copeland said of the impending matchup.

Although Curry’s game-winning shot raised decibel levels inside the gym to their highest marks, it was her defensive stuff that proved to be the big difference-maker.

Following her made shot, the Lady Irish (17-8) called timeout, hoping to draw up one final play that might either tie or win the game. But having to drive the length of the floor in five seconds would prove to be no easy task.

“The strategy was to take the ball to the basket,” Dublin head coach Clinton Lowther said. “We knew they were going to be on their heels a bit trying not to foul, so we wanted to get out point guard as far as she could before taking a shot.”

But with Raiderettes guard Cyler Ward tipping the ball on one dribble, all Dublin guard Quiondra Darrisaw could do was get just behind the 3-point arc and toss up a desperation shot. But as the short sophomore tried to jump, the 5-foot-9 Curry leapt, too, grabbing the ball in a bear hug as time ticked completely off.

“That was a sigh of relief,” Copeland said of seeing the block. “(Darrisaw), I’m sitting there watching and she was wiggling through there pretty good. If she would have gotten another step, I don’t know what would have happened. She can shoot.”

Darrisaw finished with 11. More than half her points came in the lane on runners or layups where she snuck past Northeast’s much bigger post players.

Maria Bond and Jerryshia Williams led the Raiderettes with 16 points each.

Offense was hard to come by in the ballgame, as both teams struggled to make shots at various points. Entering the game, the Lady Irish scored an average 51.8 points per game. The Raiderettes posted an impressive 60.4.

Dublin’s second-quarter scoring drought was so bad that the Lady Irish fell far behind after a 6-0 Northeast run. Coming just behind a Dublin free throw that tied the game at 17, the run lasted four minutes and propelled Northeast toward a five-point halftime lead.

Leads were to be cherished in this game. In the second half alone, there were 10 lead changes. In the fourth quarter, the game was tied twice.

“It was a great ballgame between two good teams that wanted to show they were among the eight best teams in the state,” Lowther said.


- charvey@macon.com

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Bibb County • Tagged
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