Darlington has some key senior players on its girls’ team this season, but a group of younger players have recently helped bolster the squad’s success.
Those players were showcased Saturday night at Darlington’s Huffman Center in a 57-28 win over Region 6-A/A rival Mt. Zion-Carroll, maintaining the Lady Tigers’ perfect record in the region.
Darlington head coach Hazel Hall said all four of her young post players have made big contributions to the team. The group is made up of sophomores Emmaline Ratledge and Sarah Tunnell and freshmen JyJy Johnson and Georgeanna Dempsey.
“All four of our post players bring a lot of energy and they all bring something a little bit different,” Hall said. “They work really hard and all four of them are going to end up being good players. We’re in pretty good shape and we feel really good about those four.”
Johnson had a big night for the Lady Tigers offensively and defensively, leading the Lady Tigers with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
“She’s another kid that has size, she’s got decent skill and she works,” Hall said. “She’s very receptive to what we’re doing and she’s athletic. That just adds another person to that post group that we can throw in there.”
Johnson and Tunnell helped the Lady Tigers get going through a sluggish first quarter, then Dempsey helped spark the Lady Tigers in the second quarter as they took a 34-10 lead into halftime and rolled the rest of the way to their eighth win in their last nine contests.
Tunnell scored seven points through the first two quarters and finished with 12 points, while Dempsey scored all of her eight points in the first half.
While she didn’t score any points against Mt. Zion, Ratledge pulled down 12 boards, and has developed into one of the Lady Tigers’ high scorers this season.
One highlight for her this season was when she helped lead Darlington to a win against Rome High in the championship game of the Seven Hills Rotary/Rome News-Tribune Christmas Tournament with a 17-point performance.
“She’s a really good athlete. When she gets to the point where she realizes that she can do some things and gets some more confidence, she can be a beast. She really can,” Hall said. “We’re working on some different skills with her so she can do some more things, and making her understand that she’s good.”
Darlington seniors Olivia Adams and Caroline Dingler added eight and seven points, respectively, in the win against the Lady Eagles.
Mt. Zion (6-9, 0-4 Region 6-A/A) went on an 8-0 run in the third quarter to gain a little ground against Darlington (13-2, 4-0), but Johnson hit back-to-back baskets to end the run and close out the period with a 43-20 lead for Darlington.
The Lady Eagles were led by Jordan Kierbow with 15 points.
While the Lady Tigers move to 4-0 in region play, there’s still room for improvement according to Hall.
“There’s things we didn’t do very well and we never really recovered,” Hall said. “We’ve been working on some different stuff and we just didn’t do it.”
Darlington will try to keep its streak in region play going Tuesday when they head out on the road against Trion.