The Jones County girls are proving to be adept road warriors.
Six days after winning by three points at Statesboro, the Lady Hounds overcame a slow start and held off a late charge to down Lithia Springs 60-55 on the road Thursday night in the second round of the Class 5A state basketball playoffs.
Now comes an even bigger test. Jones County (25-5) will visit top-ranked Kell (30-0) Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Kell is at 4770 Lee Waters Road in Marietta.
Kell remained undefeated with a 66-40 second round victory over Bainbridge (15-15) on Wednesday.
Lithia Springs (19-11) jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, and it looked as if big center Demeara Hinds would dominate the Lady Hounds inside.
But coach ChoRhonda Gwaltney-Harris put seldom used freshman Shania Bryant in to guard Hinds, and the Jones County girls went on a tear.
Sparked by senior Courtnee Wimberly, who hit five 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, Jones County pulled even with the Lady Lions by the end of the quarter and then outscored them 28-9 in the second quarter to build a 41-22 lead.
The Lady Hounds, who were led by Jada Morgan with 20 points, stretched their lead to 20 points early in the third quarter, but Lithia Springs charged back to twice cut the margin to six.
But the Lady Hounds held on for the win.
“Bryant came to play tonight,” Gwaltney-Harris said. “She has as much talent as anyone on the floor, but we’ve been waiting for her to get to high school speed. She worked hard and helped us tonight.
“We shot the ball well the first half. They put more pressure on us the second half and made a charge, but we were able to hold on. That’s what matters this time of year.
“Now we go to Kell. That will be another big challenge, but anything can happen in the playoffs. We’ll just go and play hard and see what happens.”