A fierce rally in the 2020 Region 8-AAAAAAA Tournament finals gave Rockdale County’s girls basketball team the region title, the program’s first since 1984.
There was much less drama in a new region this season.
The Bulldogs dominated Region 3-AAAAAA, and they have the scores to prove it. They averaged 74.1 points in region play and held opponents to 33.1. Their 10-0 region record featured nine wins of 20 or more points — their closest region win was by a 17-point margin.
They enter next week’s state playoffs with an 18-3 record, a No. 1 seed and confirmation that last year’s region championship was no fluke.
“The girls are playing hard,” Rockdale girls coach Sean Turley said. “I can’t complain. They’re doing really well. I’m proud of them.”
Only one thing hasn’t gone smoothly in the new region.
“The biggest adjustment for us is making those drives to Augusta,” Turley said of 3-AAAAAA, which requires road trips to Grovetown, Evans and Lakeside-Evans along with neighboring schools Heritage and Alcovy.
Rockdale’s statement wins haven’t been limited to region play, though. It owns a 60-50 victory over Brookwood, the Region 4-AAAAAAA champion, and a 65-57 win over Luella, which is 21-2.
“This year I think the ladies gelled together maybe a little bit faster (than last year),” Turley said. “To honest, it comes down to experience for them. And for everybody, it came together well with understanding the game, being able to make the proper plays, getting up and understanding our goals as a team, our defense, running our offense, quality of possessions. It’s just maturity. And each player has grown in their own different areas.”
Freshman Danielle Carnegie (14 points per game, 7.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 3 steals) has made an immediate impact this season, joining senior Alana Moore (12.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.8 spg, 2.2 apg) and sophomore Lia Edwards (11.2 ppg, 2.7 spg, 2.4 apg, 2.3 rpg) as double-figure scorers for a balanced team. Senior Destiny Carnegie (8.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg), sophomore Nylah Williams (7.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and senior Stephan Sellers (7 ppg, 8.1 rpg) also are among the key players.
“On any given night, anybody can step up and be that (go-to) player,” Turley said.
Up next is what the Bulldogs hope is a deep run in the state tournament. They reached the second round last season and made the quarterfinals the year before.
“Of course our goal is to win state,” Turley said. “If that’s in the writings, we’d definitely like to achieve that goal. The biggest thing for us is to get better every game and put ourselves in positions to be successful. It’s about being aggressive, trying to put our will on the game with defense. Everything we do is built around defense. The girls know that. So just putting ourselves in positions to be successful and don’t underestimate anybody.”