With her latest commanding performance on Saturday afternoon, Darlington senior Terar Stewart took another big step toward becoming the school’s all-time leading female scorer.
The Lady Tigers, however, took a step back in their pursuit of the Region 6-A/A regular season title.
Unable to contain Gordon Lee’s dynamic guard Kassidy Blevins, the Lady Tigers were saddled with their first region loss, falling to the Lady Trojans, 66-58, at the Huffman Athletic Center.
Darlington entered the day with sole possession of first place in 6-A/A, but the defeat dropped the Lady Tigers into a first-place tie with Southwest Atlanta Christian.
Blevins exploded for 36 points, including 25 in the second half.
She finished 10-of-16 from the floor — highlighted by a 5-of-8 effort from 3-point range — and also went 11-of-15 at the foul line.
Stewart tried to counteract Blevins with a dominating effort of her own.
The Darlington post player finished with 21 points, and now stands just 17 points shy of surpassing former Darlington standout Caroline (Peek) Blaylock as the school’s female scoring leader.
Stewart also collected 14 rebounds and two blocked shots. But she and Maggie Beth Atha — who finished with 18 points — were Darlington’s only two sources of consistent offense.
Darlington coach Josh Hembree said the Lady Tigers had trouble finding the right balance during the game.
He said his team endured stretches where they weren’t aggressive enough, and also had some moments where they played with “out-of-control aggressiveness.”
Neither scenario was pleasing to Hembree, who was most frustrated by his team’s inability to take care of the ball.
“We committed 30 turnovers, and not many of those came against their press,” said Hembree.
“Most of them came in our half-court sets. … And we finished 2-of-19 from 3-point range, which to me, is (a reflection) of us being content to shoot jump shots.”
Darlington shot just 29 percent from the floor, making 19-of-64 shots, including going 1-of-12 from 3-point range in the second half.
Sarah Manning finished with 12 rebounds for the Lady Tigers, who tried to stage a huge comeback in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
After trailing by as many as 15 points early in the quarter, Darlington narrowed the gap to 63-57 after a 3-point play by Atha with 30 seconds to play.
But Blevins — who made one big shot after the next throughout the day — spoiled Darlington’s comeback bid by making 3-of-4 free throws in the final 30 seconds.
“I can’t fault our effort,” said Hembree, “but we just dug too big of a hole.”
Darlington hosts Mt. Zion on Tuesday, and it could prove to be a historical night if Stewart becomes the program’s all-time scoring leader by surpassing Peek.
Peek is one of the most decorated athletes in Darlington history.
In addition to starring in basketball, she was a decorated golfer and played on the LPGA Tour.