Bryan County in good hands with Kayley Wedlow, wins GHSA state playoff opener

By Nathan Domintz/Special to Prep Sports Report | February 21, 2024

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PEMBROKE – Mario Mincey, Bryan County’s longtime girls basketball coach, made a football analogy in explaining the Redskins’ strategy to close out their 56-38 home victory over Bleckley County on Tuesday night in the first round of the GHSA Class A Division I playoffs.

Ahead on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, it was time to hand off to the running back again and again, he said, and chew up the clock.

Or, for the Bryan County girls basketball squad, hand the ball to senior guard Kayley Wedlow and let her smoothly and patiently run the offense.

“That’s just how I look at it. I’m going to put the ball in my best player’s hands. That’s how we’re going to play,” said Mincey, noting Wedlow is the lone senior on the team playing heavy minutes.

“She’s got enough experience,” he said. “We talk about these things all the time, what I expect from her to do when it becomes crunch time.”

Wedlow, the Region 3-A Division I Player of the Year, was clutch with a game-high 17 points, including making the first 10 of her 12 free-throw attempts.

The Redskins made nine of 12 foul shots in the fourth quarter to help expand a 13-point margin after three quarters to 18 points at the final buzzer.

“The way we run our offense, we try to get the ball inside, we’re trying to penetrate,” Mincey said. “Our job is to put pressure on the defense. If we put pressure on the defense, then you’re going to get to the line.”

Ashanti Brown, a junior, contributed 14 points and Elizabeth Harvey, a sophomore, 10 to the cause.

Bryan County (25-3) will host Heard County, a 51-43 winner over Bacon County on Friday in the second round of the playoffs.

Ranked No. 10 in Class A Division I by, Bryan County played like it in the second quarter, outscoring Bleckley County 20-3 to forge a 33-10 halftime lead for a game-best 23-point advantage.

The Royals, however, rallied with a 16-6 third quarter, hitting four 3-pointers along the way to trim the deficit to a more manageable 13 points.

Wedlow said that after playing good defense in the first half, the team “got a little lazy. We can’t let that happen.”

“We got a big lead, we just can’t get in our heads just because we’re up,” Wedlow said. “The other team, we can’t just give up on them because they may come up, too. So we’ve just got to keep on and stay calm and just play our game.”

Mincey anticipated Bleckley County had the fortitude to make a comeback. And it didn’t help that the Redskins played without starting center Soniya Whitaker, a game-time decision because of illness, Mincey said. Then starting point guard Jasmine Mikell, a sophomore, sustained a stinger in her shoulder with 6:05 left in the second quarter and came out of the game, returning in the second half.

Brown, who averages a double-double in scoring and rebounding, was in foul trouble much of the game and sat out long stretches. She fouled out for the first time in her basketball career with 2:03 left in the fourth quarter.

“We just had to mix and match pieces enough to get the win,” said Mincey, who started junior Katelyn King in Whitaker’s spot. “I knew (the Royals) were going to make a run. I’ve been watching them. They’re a tough team. They play some good teams. They just ran into a buzzsaw (in losing) at the region tournament.”

Bryan County has been a buzzsaw, going 10-0 in Region 3-A in the regular season, capturing the region tournament championship and winning its 10th straight game on Tuesday.

Wedlow was asked for the key to the squad’s success this season.

“We’re a team and we’re a family,” she said. “I look at them like my sisters. Coach Mincey is like our father. We’re a family first and then make sure each other are good outside school and inside school.”


Bleckley County|7|3|16|12|--38

Bryan County|13|20|6|17|--56


Beck 2, Ter’Nazia Elvine 15, Mathis 6, Kalyria Jones 11, Lindsey 4.


Mikell 6, Kayley Wedlow 17, Lovett 5, Ashanti Brown 14, Elizabeth Harvey 10, Katelyn King 4.

Records—Bleckley County 15-13; Bryan County 25-3.


Final Scores


Tue. 2/20
Bradwell Institute 58, Decatur 24
Arabia Mountain 62, Jenkins 42

Tue. 2/20
Griffin 57, New Hampstead 18

Tue. 2/20
Calvary Day 70, Pike County 37
Mary Persons 56, Liberty County 33

Tue. 2/20
Bryan County 56, Bleckley County 38

Note: As of this writing scores as posted on Maxpreps.


PHOTO CREDIT: Nathan Dominitz for the Prep Sports Report

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