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PREP BASKETBALL: Model girls clinch No. 1 seed in 7-AA

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Model vs. Rockmart

Model's Moe Welch (right) drives around Rockmart's Cambree Stanley during a Region 7-AA game Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018, at Model High School. (Jeremy Stewart/RN-T.com)

So when they found themselves down 13-11 to Region 7-AA opponent Rockmart after the first period Tuesday evening, they knew they had the ability to pull themselves out of it.

With a spark from senior point guard Moe Welch and the increasing defense of senior forward Victaria Saxton, Model did just that and won 61-40 on Senior Night to improve to 13-0 against region competition.

The victory is the Lady Devils’ eighth in a row since the first of the year and secures them the top seed in next week’s 7-AA tournament, which they will host as a result of them clinching the No. 1 spot.

“It was an emotional night,” Model girls’ coach Sally Echols said. “Senior Night is always an emotional night for your seniors, so you kind of expect that a little bit. Once we settled down and started executing offensively the second half proved to be a better half for us.”

Model (19-3) outscored the visiting Lady Jackets 25-18 in the second half to pull away over the final two quarters with Welch hitting three straight jump shots to kick off the Lady Devils’ effort after the break.

“That’s what you want to see your seniors do this time of year. Having fun, first of all, and finishing,” Echols said. “And that’s what Moe did tonight. She was a finisher.”

Welch finished with 16 points, while Saxton posted a double-double with a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds. Montana Moats gave Model a perimeter threat as she hit three 3-pointers on the way to 10 points.

Keyarah Berry scored eight of Rockmart’s 13 points in the opening period and finished with 18 total. Madison Davis added nine for the Lady Jackets, who go into the final games of the regular season hoping to hold onto the No. 2 slot in the region standings.

As Model recognized six senior varsity players during Senior Night festivities, the team is still focused on playing out the final game of the regular season Friday at Dade County before jumping into the region tournament next week.

“Tournament time is a brand new ballgame,” Echols said. “And we’ve still got to finish at Dade County on Friday. So the season is not over. We’ve got a lot of playing left to do.”