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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Darlington moves on to semifinals

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KENNESAW — The Region 6-A tournament has a little different feel this year for the Darlington Lady Tigers and the other teams.

But Darlington’s goal hasn’t changed: The Lady Tigers still want to win the region championship — and they moved a step closer on Wednesday with a 61-21 victory over Fellowship Christian in the quarterfinals.

The Lady Tigers had four players score in double digits with Terar Stewart leading the way with a 16 points.

Rachel Simon finished with 15, Bailey Brock scored 11, and Sarah Manning had 10 points.

Darlington (20-6) will take on perennial Class A powerhouse St. Frances (18-7) at 7 p.m. on Friday at Mt. Paran Christian School in the semifinals of the tournament.

But unlike most years, earning a berth in the semifinals didn’t give Darlington an automatic berth to state.

This year, the field of teams in the Class A state playoffs — which are divided between public and private school tournaments — will be based on the GHSA power rankings. Only the region tournament champions will earn automatic berths.

For now, the Lady Tigers aren’t worried about the rankings.

“The state tournament is not in our minds right now,” said Darlington coach Josh Hembree. “We are playing these games to prepare us for the state tournament, and it’s a simply matter of us going out and getting better every single night. We’ll be prepared for (the state tournament) when it gets here.”

In Wednesday’s game, Darlington got off to a slow start but used a big second quarter to coast by Fellowship Christian.

“We got some good transition buckets, seals and layups in the second quarter and we did a better job of creating turnovers (in the second quarter) which changed the momentum for us.

“I was glad to see us finally get to that point, but I was not pleased that it took us that long to get there,” added Hembree. “We’ve go to be better than that in our upcoming games.”

In this week’s power rankings, the Lady Tigers are ranked third in the state, which means Darlington has basically locked up its spot in the private school state tournament.

After leading only 14-7 at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Tigers put up 31 points in the second quarter to take a 45-13 lead at the break.

Darlington coasted from there, and their defense never allowed Fellowship Christian to score double digits in any of the four quarters.