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Archer girls basketball defense at its finest in second-round win

LAWRENCEVILLE — Defense has been a friend of Archer's girls basketball team during the 2013-14 season, but the Tigers may have gone a step further in defensive tenacity in a 62-45 win over Roswell in second round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament Monday night.

That came during the second quarter when Archer shut out Roswell and turned a tight two-point game into a 19-point halftime lead and all but put away the Hornets in the process.

Leading 17-15 after a first quarter in which there were seven lead changes and three ties, Archer played perhaps its best eight minutes of the season thus far in the second quarter.

That’s when Archer outscored Roswell 17-0 and shut down a Hornets’ offense led by Andreona Keys, who had torched Mill Creek for 31 points in the first round.

But after an eight-point opening period for Keys, Archer shut down the senior sharp-shooter and that took the steam out of Roswell on both ends.

“We knew we had to shut down No. 10 (Keys) because she was the key to their success,” said Archer head coach Ryan Lesniak. “We limited her to maybe one or two baskets in the first quarter and some free throws. And in the second quarter, we started to play better help-side (defense) and rotated better when (Keys) touched the ball. Defensive intensity was just better in the second quarter.”

Meanwhile, Archer’s offense was clicking, thanks to a defense that was forcing turnovers (19 for the game) that led to some easy baskets on the offensive end and a 34-15 halftime lead.

From there, Archer never let Roswell get any closer than 13 points in the final two quarters even though Keys heated up again after the half and scored 15 in the third quarter.

But Keys could only generate a single free throw in the final quarter as Archer answered a Roswell run when the Hornets cut the lead to 50-37 with 5:40 remaining.

However, Archer continued to attack offensively and eventually pushed its advantage back out to 22 at 62-40 before finishing with the 17-point victory.

Madison Newby led the way for Archer with a team-high 17 points, including 10 in the second half, as three Tigers hit double-figures.

Newby also added seven assists and four steals.

“(Roswell) did a great job on Madison in the first half, but she got going in the second half when we were trying to maintain our lead,” said Lesniak.

Autumn Newby recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Amber Skidgel had 13 points, including a trio of three-pointers, to go along with four rebounds as eight Tigers scored in the game.

“We set some great screens to get Amber some shots,” said Lesniak. “Early on, (Roswell) was backing off us and we took advantage and hit some threes. Overall, I thought we shot the ball well and it was a great team effort.”

With the win, Archer (27-3) moves into the quarterfinals and will host North Forsyth (28-2), the No. 1 seed from Region 6-AAAAAA, on Wednesday night.

Keys finished with 24 points to lead Roswell (21-9) and also had four rebounds and three assists.

Greer Hampton added eight points while Nikki Cwalina had four points and 13 rebounds as only five Hornets scored.