AAAAA girls tournament: Stephenson knocks out top-ranked Kell 60-51

Kell climbed to No. 1 in the Class AAAAA girls basketball rankings Sunday, thanks in large part to a wild weekend in 6-AAAAA during which the state’s three top-ranked teams lost in the region tournament.

On Tuesday in the first round of the state tournament, that same region brought the Longhorns’ season to an end.

Seventh-ranked Stephenson (24-5) used its size advantage to build a 20-point lead in the third quarter and held on for a 60-51 victory at Kell to advance to a second-round matchup at Lithia Springs, the No. 3 seed from Region 5-AAAAA. Stephenson was ranked No. 2 in the state before losing to Miller Grove and Tucker in the Region 6 tournament and settling for the No. 4 seed.

“I was concerned because in the past we’ve always come out either first or second in the region,” Stephenson coach Dennis Watkins Jr. said. “It was different. I was even nervous. I told them to just stick to the script, do what we’ve been doing all season, as far as communicating on defense and executing on offense, and it turned out well.”

Six-foot-one forwards Charbonay Johnson and Kaliyah Mitchell dominated inside for Stephenson. Johnson, a sophomore, led the Jaguars in scoring with 20 points, including nine in the second quarter when Stephenson doubled its lead from six to 12 points. Mitchell, a senior who signed with Penn State, had 10 points, 12 rebounds and several nice assists to Johnson.

“They played great,” Watkins said. “I had scouted [Kell] a couple of times, and I saw that we could match up with them on the inside. My girls ran their offense tonight. They ran the offense, and my hat’s off to Johnson and Mitchell. They did a great job.”

Stephenson led by 20 points when Johnson converted a three-point play to make it 37-17 with 5:09 remaining in the third quarter. But Kell (22-3) responded with a 7-0 run and managed to cut the deficit to 10 points heading into the fourth quarter.

A basket by Erin McKinney got the Longhorns within five points with a little more than four minutes remaining, but consecutive layups by Kyana Johnson and Charbonay Johnson pushed the lead back to 51-42. Kell never got closer than eight points the rest of the way. Naomi Stuger scored 11 of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter for Kell, the champion of Region 7.

“We knew coming in that Kell had a great team, and so I told them that they’ve got to play,” Watkins said. “The girls stepped up to the challenge.”

Stephenson (60): Kerry Watson 11, Charbonay Johnson 20, Marnasha Eugene 4, Kyana Johnson 7, Kaliyah Mitchell 10, Terrianna Cave 2, Miracle Gray 4, Schelbi McKenzie 2, Nadaysia Brooks, Kayla Holmes, Sydney Saxton, Chloe Culpepper, Nailah Manning.

Kell (51): Santavia Grant 3, Onyx Henderson 10, Naomi Stuger 24, China Henderson 4, Erin McKinney 9, Kayla Oden 1, Nikki Eggers, Brittany Stocus, Julianna Santrock.

5 comments Add your comment


February 20th, 2013
8:55 am

Congrats Jaguars. Job well done. You will need to continue to play team ball and not be selfish. This win against Kell came only because you did not play selfish basketball and you trusted your team-mates. Now, continue to build as a team and look like a team. Division amongst the team will not let you go far in the State. No one is any good without the other 4 on the court. Coaching staff you as well need to trust your players and not just your select few from varsity and your select few from JV. Coaches, keep in mind, the division starts with you. Be stern, but be fair. Rules apply to everyone and not just a select few. Don’t congratulate a 2 players at vthe end of a game when you win, congratulate the team. Remember, the people in the bleachers can see it all and they watch it all. Rally together as a team and show love for the entire team. Only thing that will hold you back from winning it all is your own distruction of how you treat players. I’m pulling for you JAGUARS, let’s get it together.


February 20th, 2013
9:02 am

@Dekalb- Although you made some excellent points, you still sound like a disgruntled

"I see now"

February 20th, 2013
9:02 am

At first glance I did not know how to receive the above message. But As I read the article and take notice below the players names, are there some players names missing? Now I understand the above message. Good observation.


February 20th, 2013
9:07 am

And it is just that, “My Opinion” You are entitled to your opinion as I am entitled to my opinion (mom, dad, auntie, uncle, coach….) LOL….

I only speak the TRUTH..


February 21st, 2013
7:27 pm

Let’s go Jaguaaarrrrssss!!! It’s do or die at this point so although there is truth to the statements made above both the coaches and the girls need to focus on what got them here and not the opinions of those in the stands. When we lose focus and change the script it costs us so instead let’s try and rally around our girls and the coaching staff and hash out our differences after the season (in house/behind closed doors). Nobody is blind so I think everyone realizes it may be time for some changes….

And Yes there are some players names missing unfortunately that happens if you do not touch the floor… they don’t credit the players that have the difficult job of cheering on their team mates. After congratulating my child on a good game she said to me “I’m just happy we won… I would sit on the bench all day as long as that means we go to the next round”. My daughter loves the game and loves to play make no mistake about it but she was able to see past the minutes toward her ultimate goal…. So I have no choice except to support and encourage her and her team. And I know you all will as well!! Jaguar Nation for Life!!!!