Both Rockmart and Sonoraville have region championship experience with the Lady Jackets winning the Region 7-AA crown last season and the Lady Phoenix earning the Region 6-AAA title. Judging by Tuesday night’s thrilling region matchup, the two talented teams, which now find themselves in the same region following last year’s GHSA reclassification, have eyes on battling it out for the top spot in a few weeks at this year’s 6-AAA Tournament.
The contenders went back and forth in a heavyweight title fight-type contest on Tuesday, each making clutch basket after clutch basket to swing the momentum in their favor down the stretch, but it was Rockmart who got a pair of huge shots and two must-have free throws from senior standout Keyarah Berry in the final minute to lead the way to a 64-60 home victory.
Berry, who in November signed a scholarship to play at Indiana, nailed a 3-pointer with 50.1 seconds to go in the final quarter to tie the game at 60-60 and then followed that up by nailing two free throws with 24.8 seconds remaining to give Rockmart (9-4, 6-2 in 6-AAA) a 62-60 lead. She then came up with a steal and a breakaway lay-up to seal the game as time expired.
Alexa Geary made her attempt to be the hero as well for the Lady Phoenix (9-3, 5-1 in 6-AAA) down the stretch as she hit a pair of huge shots of her own. The senior pulled Sonoraville even at 57-57 with a converted bucket with around two minutes to play and then pushed them ahead 60-57 with a 3-pointer with 1:09 to go before Berry’s last-minute dramatics.
“It was back and forth down the stretch and a one-possession game basically the entire fourth quarter,” said Sonoraville head coach Stephanie Caudell. “They just made one more play than we did. There are a couple of possessions we would like to have back for sure and some things we could’ve done differently, but Rockmart played really well and shot it well tonight. We just didn’t do quite enough to pull it out.”
Berry finished the contest with 25 points, including 12 in the final period. Megan Little led Rockmart in scoring with 26 points, knocking down an impressive six 3s in the victory. Little got on a roll in the third, making four threes in the quarter to help push her team to a 43-42 advantage going into the fourth.
Analee Morris added seven points for the Lady Jackets, and Zori Williams scored six on a pair of 3s in the fourth quarter.
Geary was the top scorer for the Lady Phoenix with 25 points, including eight in the fourth. Abby Chambers was also in double figures with 13, and Brooke Jones contributed 10 points to go along with a solid night in the rebounding department.
Sonoraville got off to a fast start in Tuesday’s game, building a 12-2 lead halfway through the first quarter, but Rockmart fought back by finishing the opening period on a 15-2 run to build a 17-14 advantage heading to the second quarter.
The Lady Phoenix had a nice run of their own to end the first half, scoring the last six points to take a 27-24 into the locker room at the break. Momentum continued to shift back and forth in the third quarter with no team holding more than a five-point lead in the period.
Caudell said despite the game not going in her team’s favor on Tuesday, being a part of a back-and-forth battle like that could benefit them over the next month as the postseason gets closer.
“We haven’t really had a game like that this season so it was a new experience for us,” said Caudell. “It’s really only our second or third true road game with all the different circumstances we’ve experienced this year with rescheduling and cancellations and definitely the first in an atmosphere like it was tonight. I think that is good for us. Rockmart is a really good team. We will try to learn and get better and get ready for the next one because we know there are more tough games ahead for us.”
Sonoraville will have to refocus quickly as they welcome Coahulla Creek for another huge region matchup on Friday, Jan. 15, at 7 p.m. Rockmart is also on their home court on Friday to host LaFayette in a 6-AAA contest at 7 p.m.
Sonoraville (60): Parker 5, Bowman 7, Chambers 13, Geary 25, Jones 10
Rockmart (64): Williams 6, Morris 7, Little 26, Berry 25
3-pointers: Sonoraville 6 (Chambers 2, Geary 2, Parker 1, Bowman 1); Rockmart 12 (Little 6, Berry 4, Williams 2), Free Throws – Sonoraville 8-11, Rockmart 12-14, Records – Sonoraville 9-3, 5-1; Rockmart 9-4, 6-2.