Jeff Davis coach LaKenya Knight’s hoarse voice softly told her team about the historical precedent the Vols face.
Knight filled them in on the stories, ones freshmen rarely know, and how they shape the expectations JD must meet.
The Vols, who beat Robert E. Lee 50-41 in Thursday’s Class 6A, Area 6 semifinals, have played in nine straight regionals and 12 of 13. A loss Thursday would have snapped that streak.
“They don’t have a clue, and that’s why I yell so much,” Knight said. “I think I beat it into them about once every five seconds: ‘If you lose this one, then you can go ahead and start working on next season.'”
JD, with a seven-player rotation that includes four freshmen, advanced to Monday’s championship game and will face host G.W. Carver. Win or lose, the Vols (22-7) play in a subregional next week where a win extends the regional streak.
“Our freshmen know about the streak,” JD forward Jasmine Walker said. “We’ve talked about it a lot. It’s a lot of pressure, but we know we can take it.”
Walker celebrated her 15th birthday last weekend — Knight said she assigned Walker some extra running to celebrate — and scored 22 points Thursday.
She and Tia Manora, another freshman, keyed a tiebreaking 7-0 run deep in the fourth quarter. Junior Skyy Ellis snapped a tie with a free throw before Manora scored the next four points. Walker’s 16-foot turnaround jumper ended it with 2 minutes to play.
“I felt relief when I made that,” Walker said. “I was like, ‘I made that shot?’ Usually, that shot doesn’t go in like it’s supposed to.”
But JD is supposed to find postseason success. The Vols won three regional championships in Knight’s first six seasons. Since the 1999-2000 season, JD has a 256-92 record, six regional titles and one state championship.
“We hold our expectations high,” Knight said. “The tradition at Jeff Davis speaks volumes for itself.”
Tykeria Williams and T’erra Lewis had 14 points each for Lee (21-7), which shot 21 percent.
The Generals, who set a school record for wins this season, have advanced past the area tournament just once in the last 12 years. They’ve never made a regional.
G.W. Carver girls 80,
Sidney Lanier 12
Keyaunna Thompson had 14 points and Taja-wana Russell 11 for the Wolverines (22-2). Jasmyne Taylor scored seven points for the Poets (0-20).