Samiah Puckett scored 16 points, Nadiyah Byard and Janiya Duffey 9 each and Leah Turner 8 as Griffin High defeated McIntosh 55-34 Friday night in the finals of the Region 2-AAAAA Tournament at Whitewater High School in Fayetteville.
It was the second region championship in three years for the Lady Bears (16-7) under the direction of head coach DeAndra Brown and the third in the last six years all together (2017, 2019 and 2021) during that stretch.
Griffin looked comfortable throughout the game as it topped McIntosh (20-6), which was led by Keara Collins with 10 points and Olivia Headers and Kourtlin Grant with 7 each, for the third time this season.
“The point of our game plan was to control the game,” said Brown, in her third season guiding the Lady Bears. “We slowed the ball down a lot this time and we don’t really slow the ball a lot, but I knew in order for us to have control at the end we were going to have to have our best players on the court so that means their bodies would have to be there controlling the boards, controlling the floor and controlling the basketball at the end of the day.”
The tactic paid off.
Griffin carried a 16-13 lead into the second quarter and a 26-18 lead into the half before they started to pull away in the third.
McIntosh managed one last charge, cutting Griffin’s lead to eight points, 34-26, with 2:12 left to play in the third before the Lady Bears pulled away for good on back-to-back put backs by Byard and Puckett to take a 38-26 lead with :40 left in the quarter before Duffey scored on another put back in the waning seconds to send the Lady Bears into the fourth quarter with a commanding 40-26 lead.
There Puckett scored 20 seconds into the quarter to put Griffin ahead by 16 points, 42-26, in a game where the Lady Bears never looked back.
The Lady Bears now set their sights on opening the Class AAAAA State Tournament on Feb. 23 and 24 against Region 3-AAAAA’s four-seeded team.