Creekview fell to Stephenson 40-39, Sequoyah lost 80-66 at Southwest DeKalb and River Ridge lost in front of a home crowd to Columbia, 42-31.
The coaches admitted that their teams were outplayed.
Creekview and Sequoyah, playing in the Class AAAAA tournament, were eliminated by teams from DeKalb County for the second straight year.
Creekview, which played on the road in the first round and upset Villa Rica to advance, led for much of the first half against Stephenson. But in the final seconds of the second quarter, the Lady Jaguars made a series of free throws to take a one-point lead into the second half.
The teams matched each other point-for-point in the third and fourth quarters, but in the end, Stephenson was able to hold onto the one-point halftime lead.
“Obviously, it hurts to lose,” Creekview coach Roger Nolan said. “We had a real good chance of winning that game. I thought we outplayed them in the first half.”
Nolan said Stephenson rotated through a series of tall post players and fast perimeter shooters to keep their legs fresh throughout the game. The game was decided at the free-throw line, where Stephenson went 16-for-24 and Creekview was just 8-for-13.
“That was the difference in the game,” Nolan said. “I thought our kids played as hard as they could play.”
The story was similar for Sequoyah. Despite the 80-66 score, the game was actually much closer, with Southwest DeKalb getting many of its points from the free-throw line when the Lady Chiefs were forced to foul.
The Lady Panthers led 31-27 at halftime and 48-42 at the end of the third. Sequoyah cut the lead to five points for portions of the fourth quarter, but it couldn’t edge closer.
“We got in foul trouble,” Sequoyah coach Derrick Dewitt said, “but we had some good plays. Kyli Schmitt took two charges for us, which was big.”
Kelley and Lauren Hartman both fouled out in the fourth quarter, hurting the Lady Chiefs when it came to rebounding.
Still, Kelley Hartman led Sequoyah with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Emily Ryan added 11 points and three steals, Lauren Hartman finished with eight points and Megan Garcia made three 3-pointers to finish with nine points.
“The 14-point loss doesn’t tell the story,” Dewitt said. “(Southwest DeKalb) just knocked down the free throws when we were trying to foul to stretch the game out.”
River Ridge, which earned the No. 1 seed from Region 7AAAA, had high hopes entering the second round.
Coach Jason Taylor said it came down to the Lady Knights’ inability to score in the final minutes of the game.
“(We) missed some we should have made, and they didn’t,” Taylor said.
River Ridge led 9-7 after the first quarter and 15-13 at the half, but the game swung in Columbia’s favor in the second half, where the Lady Knights were outscored 28-17.
Jessica Mlaska, a graduating player who has signed to play at Georgia Southern next year, led River Ridge with 10 points.
Dewitt said he is looking forward to next season, which will be his third at Sequoyah. The Lady Chiefs will graduate just two seniors, and they will return key players like the Hartman twins and Garcia.
“In our second year here, to get to the second round of state is quite an honor,” Dewitt said. “The community around Sequoyah is very proud of what they have accomplished and can do next year.”
Though he said he was diagnosed with cancer last fall, Nolan plans to return to the bench next season with another team ready to compete.
He said he can’t imagine coaching anywhere else.
“I’m planning on staying right here at Creekview,” Nolan said. “I’m spoiled rotten. I have great kids. I never have to check their grades or who is in trouble. They have good kids and pretty good basketball players. They are dedicated and work hard. We don’t have D-I athletes, but we have kids that work hard, and it’s a lot of fun to coach kids like that.”