Lady Jackets make it to Elite Eight
It was a big run for the Rockmart Lady Jackets basketball team, but this year it was cut short before they could reach championship gold for the 2019 season.
Rockmart took on perennial playoff contender Laney in Rockmart and lost 64-43, bringing an end to the Lady Jackets’ best season in school history after reaching the Elite Eight and getting 20 wins for the first time. They were able to host for a third round game on Feb. 26.
“I feel like we had good energy. The girls came out and played hard, there’s no doubt about that. It’s just about being in the moment,” Rockmart head coach Tim Puckett said. “We’ve got a young squad and this was a learning experience for them. There’s no doubt in my mind that we can get back here again, but this time we’ll have the experience of this game to help us.”
Rockmart (20-8) found it tough to get into a rhythm against the twotime defending Class AA state champions, falling behind 25-13 after the opening quarter and unable to catch up. Leading scorer Keyarah Berry had 13 points for the Lady Jackets while Megan Little had eight.
Berry — who, along with Little, is a sophomore — fouled out late in the third quarter. Laney (28-2) was led by Jaiden Hamilton’s 23 points. The Lady Wildcats made their first 13 free throws and finished 17-of28 for the night, while Rockmart was 20-of-42.
“In my experience if you shoot free throws well it allows you to be more comfortable, and that didn’t happen for us tonight,” Puckett said. “Still, we did well. When you play an opponent you have to adapt to how they are playing, and Laney was physical. But we had a lot of grit.”
A 15-2 run by Laney in the second quarter was the bump the visitors needed to stake a strong claim to the victory, and with Berry and Little in foul trouble by the end of the first half things never settled for the Lady Jackets.
“This is a huge accomplishment for these girls and this program. There are so many things they should be proud of. This was definitely a learning curve for us though,” Puckett said.
Rockmart’s Megan Little (center) splits Laney’s Santana Dennis (left) and Whitney Anderson as she drives toward the basket during a Class AA state quarterfinal game Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, at Rockmart.
Coach Tim Puckett and the Rockmart girls’ basketball team host Laney today in the quarterfinals of the Class AA state playoffs.