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Lady Paladins win region
Pinecrest girls shock top-ranked Dominion
Pinecrest Academy’s girls pose for a photo after winning the GISA-AAA Region 1 Championship in Sandy Springs. - photo by Submitted
Pinecrest Academy’s girls pulled the rug out from under Dominion Christian.

The Lady Paladins orchestrated a 45-37 upset victory over the No. 1-ranked Lady Knights and claimed the GISA–AAA Region 1 Championship on Friday in Sandy Springs.

Dominion came into the game a perfect 27–0 this season and had defeated the Lady Paladins by more than 25 points in each of their two regular season matchups.  

Pinecrest was seeded No. 2 in the region, but was not ranked in the state poll. 

The Lady Paladins jumped out to a six-point first quarter lead and led 27–16 at the half behind 12 points by junior post player Kayla Bergen.  Dominion closed the gap to just three points with five minutes left in the game before Pinecrest shutdown the comeback with solid free throw shooting in the  closing minutes.  Pinecrest utilized a ‘diamond and one’ defense, where senior co-captain Danielle Anderson covered tournament MVP Diane Martin.  Anderson held Martin to a tournament-low three points.   

Bergen and Margaret Cassandra led the Lady Paladins in scoring with 18 and 14 points, respectively, and were named to the all-tournament team. Anderson added seven points.

“We played our best game together as a team. We had to play intense and never give up,” Anderson said.

“Margaret and Kayla played really strong from the opening tip. We were playing for Joe [Grimaldi], we could not give up.”

The Lady Paladins have dedicated their season to Pinecrest graduate Joe Grimaldi, brother of freshman forward Julia Grimaldi, who passed away in December after a long and courageous battle with cancer.   

“Our goal was to come out strong and win the first quarter. We tried to keep them from driving by playing a 2–3 zone and they still drove on us,” Pinecrest coach Kevin Furtado said.

“We had great leadership from our seniors, Abby Boone and Danielle Anderson.  Abby had the game of her career.”

Pinecrest was set to face John Milledge Academy in the opening round of the GISA–AAA state tournament on Wednesday in Macon (result not available).

“The season is a journey,  we  have to put this behind us and go to the state tournament,” Furtado said  “All teams will be good, we have to come ready to play.”