After struggling through the first two months of the season, the Knights opened up 2013 with a four-game winning streak to improve their record to 7-9 overall going into their game last Friday with Paideia.
Pace is also in the thick of the Region 5A race with a 4-1 mark and is in the hunt for a state tournament spot with a No. 15 ranking in last week’s GHSA Class A power poll.
“I think it’s a good thing and it’s where we want to be,” Pace coach Regina Tate said. “We’re just focusing on each game and focusing on improving.”
Playing a challenging early season schedule that included higher-classification teams like Pope, Whitewater and Northview (AAAAA), Woodland of Henry County (AAAA) and Lovett (AA) as well as Class A powerhouses Holy Innocents’ and Paideia, Pace found itself with a 3-9 record as 2012 came to an end.
The Knights began to turn it around after that, defeating Lumpkin County 41-39 Dec. 29, W.D. Mohammed 66-14 Jan. 8, Atlanta International 40-39 Jan. 11 and Eagle’s Landing Christian 54-33 Jan. 14.
Tate was especially excited about the win over AIS, which entered the game with a 7-0 record.
“This group of kids never lost to AIS and they didn’t want to experience that,” Tate said. “AIS is a good team and they were a tough matchup for us, so it was a big win for us.”
While Pace has struggled to score — averaging about 35 points a game — the Knights have made up for their lack of offensive firepower with a stingy defense that has allowed only 43 per contest.
“We play really good defense,” Tate said. “The other night [in the Eagle’s Landing Christian game], Evelyn Dobbs had 10 or 11 deflections — which isn’t an actual stat, but is still an important thing — and had four steals. We have trouble scoring, but we play defense and rebound well.”
Dobbs, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, leads a balanced Pace attack with 9.2 points a game, while 5-foot-11-inch senior forward Hannah Ferry is averaging 8.3 per contest.
Frances Crisler, a 5-7 freshman forward, is the team’s top rebounder with seven per game, while 5-5 sophomore point guard Lauren Hadley and 5-10 senior center Lindsay Zwecker have also made key contributions.