Borato Broughton left Westlake four years ago to start the girls basketball program at south Fulton’s newest high school, Langston Hughes.
One of the building blocks he found upon his arrival was Briunca Caldwell, a freshman at the time who has gone on to become the program’s first four-year starter.
On Senior Night in Fairburn on Friday, Broughton, Caldwell and the Panthers celebrated the four years of hard work with a 57-48 victory over Douglas County that clinched the school’s first regular-season region title in girls basketball.
The 10th-ranked Panthers (19-2 overall, 8-0 in 3-AAAAAA) have won 13 consecutive games since a loss to No. 9 Hillgrove on Dec. 27 and beat Douglas County (17-4, 6-2) for the second time in two weeks.
“I remember the first day when we came over from Westlake, we went in the gym and we had seven girls,” Broughton said. “I told my assistants, ‘Now understand, it’s going to be a few years before we can get something together, because first off we’re going to have to beat Westlake. We’re going to have to coach hard, stay on them, be consistent and win some games that they don’t expect us to win so we can get some talent coming over here.’”
Caldwell played a key role down the stretch against Douglas County, scoring seven of her 12 points in the final 1:01 as the Panthers closed the game with a 9-1 run to secure the victory. Caldwell battled foul trouble most of the night and entered the fourth quarter with just two points.
“One thing I told Briunca is that she’s too valuable to us to get silly fouls early in the game,” Broughton said. “But I think she saw tonight how important it is for her to be on the floor, not just for her scoring but her presence on the floor.”
Hughes trailed 13-11 at the end of the first quarter but took control of the game with an 11-0 run to start the second. A 3-pointer by Tia Jones gave Hughes the lead at 16-13 with 5:02 to play in the half, and freshman Kennya Simms scored six of her team-leading 13 points as the Panthers outscored Douglas County 15-2 in the quarter to lead 26-15 at halftime.
Douglas County never trailed by more than 11 points and even had a chance to tie the game with 1:28 to play. Amadi Brooks, who led all scorers with 14 points, made the first of two free throws to cut the lead to 48-47, but she missed the second and the Panthers put it away from there.
“My mom’s here,” Broughton said. “My mom’s my biggest fan, and she’s seen this thing go from nothing and build up into something the girls can be really proud of and something this community can be proud of.”
Douglas County (48): Santasia Faust 9, Amira Atwater 5, Maya Benham 9, Amadi Brooks 14, Doris Ijeoma 4, Kianna Glover 5, Quonisha Brooks 2, Ronika Mitchell, Tamia Tillman.
Langston Hughes (57): Kayla McCray 10, Tia Jones 7, Jazmin Williams 6, Briunca Caldwell 12, Kennya Simms 13, Si’taraya Nelloms 7, Kendricka Glover 2, Gabrielle Itohan, Jacquece Alston, Latrevia Wilson, Sydnei Turner.