LILBURN — Often, in important games like Saturday’s Region 8-AAAAA girls championship, the story can be told at the charity stripe.
No. 2 seed Brookwood shot 15-for-33 (45 percent) from the line, while top seed and three-time region champ Parkview was 8-for-11 (73 percent).
Naturally, the 2011 region champs are the Brookwood Broncos, beating the Panthers 49-44.
“If you would have told me we would have won this game missing 18 free throws,” said Brookwood head coach Scott Terry.
“I would have told you, you were as crazy as a loon.”
There were more than a few loony moments (28 Parkview turnovers, 23 Brookwood turnovers, 37 combined fouls), but the Broncos (25-2) won region for the first time since 1993 and took down its rival for the second time this season.
“It’s even better,” Seniors Jazmine Jackson and Katie Mallow said in unison on how it feels to win on their rival’s floor.
While all those missed foul shots kept the Panthers (23-5) in the game, all the fouls they committed made it nearly impossible to win.
“We put ourselves between a rock and a hard place,” said Panthers’ head coach Mike McCoy.
Starters Mia Marshall and Erika Joseph fouled out along with reserve Adreana Jefferson. Parkview’s only senior, sharp-shooter Katie Carroll (10 points, one 3-pointer), had four fouls and was not much of a factor until the fourth quarter. No one fouled out for Brookwood.
“You kind of have to wonder what is going on,” said McCoy of the 28-11 foul differential.
But this game was anything but a Bronco rout. In fact, Parkview had just capped a 7-0 run and led 19-12 with five minutes left in the first half.
Parkview would not score again until the third quarter. Brookwood’s 21-2 game-changing run lasted more than eight minutes.
“We did some adjustments defensively that caused them some problems, I think,” Terry said.
But when a team misses as many free throws as Brookwood did, the barn door is always open.
Parkview chipped away at the 37-30 lead the Broncos had to begin the fourth quarter.
Marissa Mandeldove (19 points) hit a wide open lay-up with 1:11 left to make it 44-41. Six seconds later, Parkview’s press forced a turnover and Mandeldove jacked up a long 3-pointer to tie it.
“At one time we were playing three JV kids,” McCoy said. “But give them credit, we came back from a double-digit lead.”
The tie lasted the length of the court. Brookwood easily broke the full court press and Courtney Gardner laid in the eventual game-winning bucket.
Broncos’ Sophomore Rebecca Walker dominated underneath with 15 rebounds and 10 points. Autumn Adams had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Jackson added 11 points and hit the free throws to finally ice it with 10 seconds left.
“Whew,” said Jackson. “I had to just buckle down. It didn’t matter who was screaming.”
Both teams will be at home Saturday for the first round of the Class AAAAA tournament. The Broncos host Northview, while the Panthers get Milton.