Mitchell’s performance at both ends gets it done for Lady Raiders against Terrell

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, February 2, 2023

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AMERICUS – Southland Academy (SAR) senior guard Riley Mitchell showed why she has been a four year starter at Southland Academy and why she is among the best players in the state at the GIAA level by forcing turnovers on defense and leading the Lady Raiders on offense with 18 points in their 37-28 victory over Terrell Academy (TA) on Tuesday, January 31 at the Melvin Kinslow Gymnasium.

The win vaults the Lady Raiders to 20-2 overall on the season.

As always, the Lady Raiders’ success started with their defensive effort and it helped create their offense. “We always rely on our defense number one,” SAR Head Coach Eric Israel said. “Defense is going to keep you in every single game and we did just that tonight. We knew they (TA) were going to make a run. Terrell is a really good basketball team, a well-coached team. We knew they were going to make a run. We knew we had to just meet that run and not let it get farther than it should go. They got it down to eight and we kind of kept it there and weathered the storm,” Israel continued.

Mitchell was not the only Lady Raider that turned in a solid performance. Morgan Weaver scored 11 points on the night, Mary Beth Easterlin had four points and both Lauren Duke and Anslee Rooks chipped in two points in the winning cause.

Southland Academy senior guard Morgan Weaver drives to the basket against Terrell Academy. Weaver scored 11 points in the win over the Lady Eagles.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The Lady Raiders jumped out to a 24-13 lead in the first half and capped their run off with a basket from Mitchell on the dribble drive. In the closing minutes of the half, SAR continued to dominate defensively and they capped off another 4-0 run when Weaver drove through the lane and scored to give the Lady Raiders a 28-13 lead at halftime.

Throughout the first half, Mitchell made things happen on both ends of the court. She scored 15 of her game total of 18 points in the first half and forced numerous turnovers on defense.

Early in the third quarter, SAR continued its dominating defensive pressure against the Lady Eagles and forced them into a shot clock violation at one point. This solid defensive pressure from the Lady Raiders continued in the third quarter and they only allowed TA to score eight points in the quarter. As a result, SAR had a 34-21 lead with one final eight-minute period left.

However, the Lady Eagles went on a 6-0 run early in the fourth quarter and capped it off with a three-pointer from Emilee Moore. This prompted Israel to call a timeout with 5:20 to go with SAR leading 34-26.

Out of the timeout, the Lady Raiders tried to be as patient as they could with the 35-second shot clock, but were unable to score for most of the quarter, as the SAR offense went stagnant. This allowed TA to cut the Lady Raiders’ lead to 34-28. However, Weaver was fouled while attempting a three-pointer and made all three foul shots to give SAR a 37-28 lead with 48.7 seconds left when timeout was called.

Out of the timeout, the Lady Eagles implemented a full court press, but the Lady Raiders were able to hold on and gain a 37-28 victory over TA.

Liza West led TA in scoring with 16 points and Emilee Moore chipped in six for the Lady Eagles in the losing cause.

The Lady Raiders will step back into GIAA Region 3-AAA play when they head down to Thomasville, GA on Friday, February 3 to take on the Lady Warriors of Brookwood. In the last meeting between these two teams in Americus on Friday, January 13, the Lady Raiders won handily by the score of 46-21. Tip off from Thomasville is scheduled for 6:15 p.m.