NORTH AUGUSTA --- North Augusta girls basketball coach Jared Adamson knew his team had no answer for 6-foot-4 Dutch Fork center Alaina Coates.
It turns out, he didn't need one.
Coates, a full 8 inches taller than any player on the Lady Yellow Jackets roster, tallied a game-high 27 points and 16 rebounds and got help from teammate Donnesha Shuler, who scored 18.
But North Augusta limited the rest of the Dutch Fork team to just four points in a 55-49 victory by the Lady Yellow Jackets.
"They had Shuler and Coates. We had no answer for Coates, but we were able to stop all their other girls and limit their touches," Adamson said. "It was a good team defensive effort."
North Augusta claimed the title of region 5-AAAA frontrunner with the win by handing Dutch Fork its second region loss.
The Lady Yellow Jackets used full-court pressure for much of the game and threw in a half-court trap at other times in an effort to keep the ball out of Coates' hands. It worked early when North Augusta opened the second quarter with a 12-0 run thanks to several steals in the backcourt.
But Dutch Fork finished the half on a 16-2 run, and the Lady Yellow Jackets, who led by as much as seven points in the first half, entered the locker room trailing 30-23.
The second half belonged to the North Augusta defense and Cassie McKie.
Dutch Fork was limited to 19 points in the final two quarters, including just six in the fourth, and McKie hit several big shots to seal the win.
The senior guard drained a 3-pointer late in the third quarter to give the Lady Yellow Jackets a 34-32 lead.
Dutch Fork reclaimed the advantage quickly, but McKie's 10-foot jumper in the paint in the fourth quarter put North Augusta back on top, and McKie's steal and feed to Kayla West made it a four-point game.
I said to myself, 'I got to do something,' " McKie said. "It was high intensity the whole game. Everybody was excited, and we needed something to happen."
- North Augusta's boys scored 27 points in the first quarter and never looked back in a 73-56 win over Dutch Fork.
Devon Davis led the Yellow Jackets with 24 points, while Austin Davis added 18 and Jaylon Meyers scored 16.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.