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Darton wins historic first meeting vs. local foe Albany Tech

January 16, 2010
- The first-year Albany Tech women’s basketball program gives an established Darton College team a run for its money Saturday in the inaugural meeting between the two neighboring schools, though the experience of the Lady Cavs wins out late in a 69-43 win.

It was just the first of many to come. On Saturday, for the first time in history of either school, the Albany Tech women’s basketball team — in its inaugural season — faced off against cross-town neighbor Darton College in what’s sure to become a rivalry in the years to come. But as of now, chock the early advantage up for the Lady Cavs. “It was a close game all the way until the last 10 minutes or so,” said Lady Titans coach Kenneth Williams, whose girls fell, 69-43, to Darton on Saturday. “We’re a young, first-year program and Darton has experience in those close games. With 10 minutes to play, we were down by four — then Darton just turned it on and ran away with it.” Jasmine Vaughn led ATC with 11 points, followed by LeKendra Sol with 10, but it was no match for Marah Wright from Darton, who led all scorers with 17, and 16 points and 12 rebounds from Dominique Gilbert. Gilbert posted what coach Laura Blackwell said was something along the lines of her “gazillionith” double-double in a row Saturday. “We were talking about how awesome she is after the game,” Blackwell said. “I can’t remember the last time she didn’t have one.”

The win Friday against Brewton-Parker snapped a two-game losing streak for Darton, while the win Saturday began a two-game win streak as the Lady Cavs moved to 11-8 overall and 1-2 in Region XVII. Albany Tech, which joined the conference in what is also its inaugural season, fell to 0-3 in region play. The bright side for ATC? “We’re still 8-7 and above .500 in our first season,” Williams said. “We came in with the mindset, like we do every game, that we can win; we can beat (Darton). But I have to credit Darton. When it looked like we might (win), they dug deep and turned up their intensity.”

Blackwell said she didn’t talk much to Williams on Saturday about the ups and downs of coaching women’s basketball, but that the duo have had several conversations leading up to this year and during it on the subject. “When the year began, I can remember talking to Kenneth about coaching girls, in general, and that to just be patient and work with them,” Blackwell recalled. “I also told him about when this program first started — and while I wasn’t here then — I heard all the horror stories about their first season, going 1-15, or something. “But Albany Tech isn’t having that problem in its first year. They’re doing well right off the bat and I’m sure they’ll end up being our cross-town rivals for years to come.” Darton played the game Saturday without the services of five players it lost over the holiday break, including three to academic eligibility issues, one to injury and one to personal reasons. Two of those five were starters. Nonetheless, the Lady Cavs still got the job done.

“It’s disappointing to see that happened, but we’re just doing our best to keep our squad together right now,” said Blackwell, whose team next plays on the road Tuesday in Cuthbert at Andrew College — the Lady Cavs’ only other local rival before Albany Tech came onto the scene this season. “At this point, others need to step up.” Williams thinks the same about his team, only he wants to see his team — which consists of just nine players — step up when it counts most: the end of the game. “I can’t tell you how many games we’ve been in late, then ended up losing by 20 points this year,” said Williams, whose team next faces Atlanta Metro on Wed

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