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Girls’ basketball: Redskins finish the season strong against SVA, focus now turns to region play
Meanwhile, the boys’ basketball team will close out regular season play on Friday at home against Southeast Bulloch.
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After polishing off St. Vincent’s Academy, 67-39, Tuesday night in their final regular season game, the Bryan County’s girls' team now turns its attention to next week’s Region 3A-DI tournament which will be held at Metter.

The tournament will run Tuesday through Saturday and the Redskins have a bye into Thursday’s semifinals. With a berth in the Class A state tournament already in hand, they will play the winner of the Savannah-Claxton at a time to be determined.

The Redskins boys team (14-9, 6-4) will close out regular season play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Southeast Bulloch. Bryan County will open region play as a No. 3 seed against Claxton and a win would put it in the state playoff field. Pairings with day and time are to be determined on Wednesday.

After running roughshod through the region, the Redskins girls will be a heavy favorite as they play for a region title for the fifth time in the last six years.  Bryan County (21-3, 10-0) last won a region title in 2017 and had runner-up finishes in 2019, 2020 and last year.

Despite winning its region games by an average margin of 21 points, Coach Mario Mincey is taking nothing for granted. He especially remembers close calls against Metter (58-55) and Screven County (51-47) in the closing weeks of the season.

“One thing I learned being in it so long is I’m never confident,” said Mincey who is in his 17th season. “We’re always going to take the underdog approach.

“Even as the No. 1 team we’re still going to take the underdog approach. We always look it as we have something to prove.”

The Redskins have three of the top players in the region in reigning Player of the Year Kayley Wedlow, Ashanti Brown and Jasmine Mikell. Soniya Whitaker is a solid player who joins with Brown to give the Redskins some size inside. 

The fifth starter has been by committee with Liz Harvey, Brianna Crawford, and Nevaeh Lovett filling that role. Against St. Vincent's, senior Tashiya Burlingame, a first-year player, found herself starting.

Depth became more of an issue when Harvey suffered a knee injury two weeks ago against Screven County. Harvey, an all-region player in softball and soccer, hasn’t played since and her return is questionable.

“She’s doing rehab,” Mincey said, “but I won’t play her unless the doctors give her the okay. She’s our best defensive player. Developing depth is a concern.”

Wedlow and Brown have led the way for a team that has now won 20 or more games for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. The only blemish is a 9-12 mark in the 2021 COVID season. During this stretch, Bryan County has gone 168-48.

The Redskins finished their run through the region with a 61-33 win at Savannah High last Friday and then had a 66-37 win at Portal on Saturday before rolling over St. Vincent’s.

In the win at Savannah High and then against SVA, the Redskins got off to slow starts before blowing the game open. They trailed 6-0 early against the Blue Jackets and 8-2 against the Saints before turning it on and scoring at will.

With Harvey out, the game at Savannah High was one of concern for Mincey as he noted before the game that the Blue Jackets play especially well at home. They did exactly that at the outset as the Redskins were in a self-destruct mode in the early going.

Bryan County did not score until 3:39 left in the first quarter when Whitaker scored on a follow-up, Brown added a free throw and Wedlow drilled a 3-pointer. After the Blue Jackets went back in front, 8-7, the Redskins closed the quarter on an 8-2 run and made it a 19-4 streak for an insurmountable 26-13 lead.

“I’ll give them a better grade for the second half,” Mincey said after the win. “We played better basketball, better defense. We got off to a slow start but kind of figured some things out.

“We’re short-handed without Liz, but we found another player in Brianna Crawford who stepped up and had a big game for us.”

Wedlow had 23 points and Brown 14 while Crawford had six and stood out on defense. Lovett also had six.

St. Vincent’s strategy was to take Wedlow out of the game and it worked in that she had a season-low nine points. However, Mikell, who had six points against Savannah, took up the slack as the sophomore point guard scored 17 points, to back up Brown’s 22. Burlingame came out of nowhere to score 13 points which included three 3-pointers.

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