Web Daniel is a firm believer that if his team can continue to knock down big shots, the Chestatee Lady War Eagles can keep winning.
That was evident Friday night, as Chestatee routed region foe Monroe Area 55-31, using dominating performances from a pair of seniors to lead the way.
“If we come out and shoot the basketball like we do, we can play with anybody,” Daniel said. “Our goal is to make it to the Sweet 16; we’ve been there four out of the last five years. “
Despite lacking height, which Daniel admits could hurt the Lady War Eagles in the postseason, Chestatee is off to an impressive 14-3 start this season (2-0 in Region 8-AAAA), using the deep ball to sink opponents.
Through the first 18 games this season, the Lady War Eagles are one of the top 3-point shooting teams in Class AAAA, converting eight on Friday night in the win.
“This team is one of the best teams I’ve had, offensively,” Daniel said. “I think right now, we are leading the state in 3-point makes. As long as we make shots, we are pretty tough.”
Senior Bridgette Kelly tallied four of the 3-pointers for Chestatee on Friday night, as she finished with a game-high 21 points. Fellow senior Maggee Wilson, who hadn’t played since her freshman year, piled in 15 points for the Lady War Eagles, who continue to streak through the schedule thus far this season.
Kelly had the hot hand early for Chestatee. She accounted for all of the Lady War Eagles’ first-quarter points, 14, and personally outscored Monroe Area 21-16 in the first half.
Kelly opened the game by draining back-to-back 3-pointers, giving the Lady War Eagles a 6-0 lead. After Monroe Area (2-13, 0-1) knotted the game even, Kelly converted a layup and a 3-pointer on the following possession to push the Lady War Eagles’ lead to five
Savanna Long scored Chestatee’s first basket of the second quarter, the first scored by someone other than Kelly, who earned the assist on the play. From there, Kelly scored the next five points for Chestatee, stretching the lead to eight, 22-14.
“(Kelly) has done it all year,” Daniel said. “We come out here and shoot threes and whoever gets on fire we keep feeding her. And (Kelly) made some shots early on.”
The key to Kelly’s success early in the game was Monroe Area’s defensive zone.
“When we see zone, that is like heaven for us,” Kelly said. “We just go like crazy. When we see zone, we just start shooting.”
After a jumper from Long and a 3-pointer from Wilson, Kelly converted back-to-back free throws to make the score 29-16. The Lady War Eagles led 34-16 at the half.
Wilson took over in the third quarter. With Monroe Area focusing on shutting down Kelly, Wilson scored 10 straight points for the Lady War Eagles, helping them build their largest lead of the game, 50-18, just seconds into the fourth quarter.
Wilson’s ability to step up in the second half, when Kelly was heavily guarded, is just another level of what makes Chestatee so hard to defend this season.
“(Wilson)’s finally getting her legs under her,” Daniel said. “The last three or four games, she has really stepped it up big time.”
Kelly finished with six rebounds and three assists to go along with her 21 points, while Macey Jarrard and Tyler Bennett each finished with a game-high seven rebounds for the Lady War Eagles.
MONROE AREA BOYS 72, CHESTATEE 64: The Purple Hurricanes outscored the War Eagles 12-4 in the final 1:28 to secure a region victory on Friday night in Gainesville.
In what was a back-and-forth game in the second half, Chestatee (4-13, 1-1 Region 8-AAAA) tied the game at 60-60 with 2:50 remaining, the seventh tied scored of the half. But, Monroe Area (3-12, 1-1) took advantage of several costly War Eagle turnovers, resulting in fast breaks and converted four free throws down the stretch to earn the win.
Chestatee built a slim five-point advantage in the first half, before the teams swapped the lead four times in the final two minutes of the second quarter, with Monroe Area grabbing a 32-31 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, the lead swapped hands nine times, with Chestatee pulling away to build a 53-49 lead at the end of the quarter.
Jordan Pulliam finished with a team-best 14 points for Chestatee, while Hunter Creamer finished with 13. Joey Scheman finished with eight and Jordan Stubblefield added eight.
For Monroe Area, Willie Taylor led all scorers with 24 points, while Ken Almond finished with 21 points. Al Reid added 11 points for the Purple Hurricanes.