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Trio Bre-athing life into playoff push
Briannas Lawrence and Patton, along with Breanna Richardson help Rockdale earn top seed in Region8-A
rockdale salem
Bulldogs' defense: Brianna Patton displays some of the defense against Salem that has helped Rockdale earn a top seed in the Region 8-AAAA Tournament. - photo by Darrell Everidge

When Sheri Williams took over as girls' basketball coach at Rockdale High School, the pieces were already there for a great season.

Now, as her first regular season as the Bulldogs' head coach has come to an end, she reminds her squad: eight more games.

Eight games are all that is standing between Rockdale and the goal Williams set for it 25 games ago.

"That's what we're focused on," Williams said. "Day one when I came in, I told them, ‘What is your goal?' That's what they wanted. They're focused on the next eight games."

The Bulldogs (20-5, 7-1 Region 8-AAAA) clinched the top seed in this week's region tournament by defeating Salem 46-44 on Tuesday. The game not only served as an assurance of first place, but also as revenge. The Lady Seminoles were the only team to beat Rockdale, 57-54 on Jan. 20.

Kree Clark, who missed the first game, helped lead Rockdale in victory, scoring 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Brianna Lawrence added 13 points and Breanna Richardson chipped in seven points and 11 rebounds.

Defense led by Kree Clark and the three Bre's has been the formula for Rockdale's success all year. The Bulldogs have given up 50 points only four times.

"We play together as a team," Brianna Lawrence said. "We play real tough defense and are moving the ball well on offense."

Lawrence is one of three Rockdale starters with the first name Brianna, She shares the spelling with Patton, while Breanna Richardson adds an E.

The team avoids any bre-confusion by going with last names, except for Lawrence.

"Lawrence is too much to say," Patton said.

The three have been used to playing together, with all three on the team last year, and Lawrence and Patton playing together since Conyers Middle School.

"We said, ‘Oh my God, we're all named Bre.'"

Williams, who took over as head coach this season, but has been around the program, was used to her same-named trio.

"I just call them by their last names," Williams said. "All three are starters and have been starters from the beginning."

The three bring shooting, defense and leadership to the starting lineup, which also includes Clark and Kayla Collins. Williams said the defense has been a strong-suit for Rockdale throughout the last two years, and her focus was offense.

"There are still some glitches in the offense, because they're not used to running sets and committing to sets," Williams said.

The Bulldogs run various offensive sets, depending on what defense they go up against, zone. On defense Rockdale comes out of a 3-2 zone, but lately has gone to a 1-2-2 box-and-one, meaning a zone defense with one player focused on defending the other team's key offensive member.

Rockdale employed this style of defense against Salem, focusing on Ayanna Mitchell. It helped pave the way to a win over the second-seeded Lady Seminoles.

Rockdale will now face the winner of Clarke Central and Winder-Barrow at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

"We have the whole package," Williams said. "We just have to get on the same page.
"We have eight games to get to the state finals."