CONYERS -- One of the marks of a championship-caliber team is when it can pull out a win when it doesn't play its best. Such was the case for the Rockdale girls basketball team Friday.
Breanna Richardson scored 17 points and Tennessee State signee Brianna Lawrence dished out six assists, while the Bulldogs shook off 21 turnovers and defeated Heritage, 53-43.
Rockdale moved to 18-5 overall and 6-1 in Region 8-AAAA, though it wasn't nearly as easy as it looked to be early on. The Bulldogs led 34-17 10 seconds into the second half after an alley-oop layup by Richardson from Brianna Patton, but the host Patriots hung around. Aujana Dawkins scored six of her team-high 12 points during a 9-1 run that helped Heritage (11-13, 2-6) close to within 35-26. Rockdale's lead didn't fall below eight points the rest of the way, but eight second-half turnovers helped keep it interesting.
"Way too much complacency, any team can take a win from us. It's a mental thing," Rockdale coach Sherri Williams said of her team possibly taking Heritage, which has lost nine of 11 games, lightly. "We've been trying to work on our inside game, when we're trying something new there's going to be turnovers. (But) to me it's more being lazy because we have a lead. Teams make a run."
Rockdale's defense created some turnovers of their own as Heritage coughed it up 12 times in the opening half and trailed 32-17 at the break. Jada Cost's field goal midway through the opening quarter got the Patriots within a basket, but they wouldn't get any closer. Rockdale closed the first on a 13-1 spurt, seven of the points coming from Kayla Collins. Heritage got as close as 21-12 in the second on a free throw by Shanique Heard, then the Bulldogs trapping defense forced mistakes and Lawrence had two of her five first-half assists on a bucket by KiKi Jacobs and a 3-pointer from Tahjande Watkins in the final four minutes of the half.
Collins added nine points and Kree Clark had eight points and 11 rebounds for Rockdale, while Sierra Crosson chipped in 10 points and Che Hardaway, eight for Heritage.
The Rockdale boys cruised in the nightcap as five players had at least eight points in a 73-40 victory.
The Bulldogs held a slim, 15-14 advantage late in the opening quarter, but quickly took control. Anthony Rivers drained a 3-pointer to cap a 9-0 run and the lead ballooned to 18 by halftime. Rockdale (16-6, 7-0 Region 8-AAAA), which was coming off a three-point loss to Wesleyan that snapped an eight-game winning streak, hit nine 3-pointers on the night, three coming during a dominant third quarter and the last, by Jamal Turner, made it 58-28 with 1:40 to play in the period.
C.J. Wilson paced the Bulldogs with 12 points, Charles Moore added 11 and Shaquille Fisher came off the bench to score eight of his 10 points in the second half. For rebuilding Heritage (3-21, 0-8), which lost its 11th consecutive game, Mark Wilkerson led the way with a game-high 16 points and Rashad Jones added 12 points.
The Rockdale girls blew out Stockbridge, 75-30 in a nonregion game Saturday, thanks to 17 points from Collins and 15 from Watkins off the bench