For now, the Armuchee Lady Indians reign supreme over Region 7-AA.
The standings might say differently, but Armuchee is coming off an outstanding week where they knocked off the region No. 2 Calhoun Lady Jackets on Tuesday and throttled the region No. 1 Pepperell Lady Dragons, 55-39, on the road Friday night.
“We came out really focused,” said Armuchee head coach Michelle Arp. “This was a big game because Pepperell was undefeated in the region, and we really needed to get them. I was really proud of how the girls responded ... how they stayed focused and just fought to the end.”
The first quarter went exactly how you’d expect these evenly matched teams to play, as Armuchee and Pepperell traded leads. The Lady Indians closed the first quarter on a 4-0 run to take a slim 14-13 lead into the second.
Pepperell opened the quarter on an 8-2 spurt, led by Jacrisa Ware and her tough perimeter defense.
She was extremely active, disrupting Armuchee’s passing lanes and deflecting passes.
Slowly, the Lady Indians chipped away at the lead, allowing Madison Wilder her only made field goal of the night as Armuchee focused on shutting down the sharpshooter and her sister, Erin.
“Defensively, our two seniors stepped up really big,” said Arp. “They really shut down Madison Wilder. She only had three points all night. We rotated really quick, and we communicated on our rotations.”
Over the next four minutes, Armuchee would battle back to take a 24-23 lead into the half.
With the game up for grabs to open the third, senior JessAnn Nix took control from the opening possession.
She continued to deny Wilder the ball on defense and made scoring on the Lady Dragons look easy.
After notching just eight points in the first half, she dropped in 11 in the third quarter alone, giving her 20 for the game and separating what was once a close contest.
“(Nix) really stepped up tonight and took control of the game. She was making great passes, taking great shots and handling the pressure,” said Arp. “She was playing great defense. It was one of the best games I’ve seen her play in four years. She showed extremely good leadership as a senior. Her and Jordan (Burnett) both.”
With 1:46 remaining in the quarter, Armuchee had built a 35-32 lead. In the final two minutes of the frame, the Lady Indians would use a 5-0 run to close the quarter, 40-32.
Before the fourth quarter opened, Arp stressed to her team to close the game like they had Tuesday night against Calhoun.
“I told them, this is just part of growing as a team,” said Arp. “You realize game situations and you adjust to them, and you know what to do at the end.”
The Lady Indians did just that, holding Pepperell scoreless until just over four minutes remained in the final quarter, when the Lady Dragons knocked down a free throw, making the game 43-33.
From there, Armuchee used an 11-0 run to close the game, allowing Pepperell to score their first field goal of the quarter with just 35 seconds left in the contest.
For Arp, the key to the night was crashing the boards, an area where Elizabeth Newburry found her niche, snagging 18 rebounds along with six points.
“That’s one of the things that lost the game for us last time, missed box outs,” said Arp. “We’ve been working really hard on that. That’s what made a difference.”
Nix scored a game-high 29 points for Armuchee, followed by Rebekah Hammond with nine. Erin Wilder and Tymeshia Dozier each chipped in nine points to lead the Lady Dragons, while Ware added eight.
The win moves Armuchee to 11-5 (6-2) on the season, with a tilt Tuesday night with Bremen at home.
Pepperell drops to 13-2 (6-1), with another home game slated for Tuesday evening against Coosa.
JessAnn Nix 29, Rebekah Hammond 9, Elizabeth Newburry 6, Mattie Chapman 4, Jordan Burnett 4, Katie Jacobs 2, Claire Tibbetts 1
Erin Wilder 9, Tymeshia Dozier 9, Jacrisa Ware 8, Carolina Holbrook 6, Leah Rowell 4, Madison Wilder 3