Akaya Chaney.JPG

The Discovery girls basketball team sowed seeds last season.

They won 12 games, a school record, with Kandra Bailey in her first season as the head coach and raced out of the gates this year.

The Titans won seven of their first eight games and matched the record 12 wins, with only two losses, against Redan on Dec. 27.

“Last year, we were still learning each other and they were still learning the systems, what my expectations are,” Bailey said. “This year, we’ve gotten to a point where they’ve bought in and they know what I expect so it’s getting easier.

“But our region is just super tough. You’re never just going to walk in a game and know that you can win it. It’s going to be a battle every night, but I’m proud of the effort we’ve been giving this season.”

The fast start was surprising after the losses of senior point guard Payton Hicks and junior post Yasmine Fairchild. Bailey and her staff had to completely revamp the offensive playbook. She also talked to Akaya Chaney about moving to point guard.

“She’s definitely stepped up to the challenge,” Bailey said. “We had a meeting with her at the beginning of the season and I really was just like, “look, this is what it’s going to be and you don’t really have a choice, but I need you to step up for your team.’ She has not only stepped up on the floor, but she’s become a more vocal leader. I think that’s what we were lacking in the past. She’s been huge for us.”

Chaney and shooting guard Keyara Wooden were expected to be major contributors. They are part of a large senior class that Bailey is leaning on this season.

“Having six seniors can be a good thing for you or it can be a bad thing for you,” Bailey said. “It’s a good thing for us. I have that leadership. They are my second set of coaches. They’ve done a really good job of that.”

Sophomore Taylor Watkins has been an unheralded gem. She keyed a stunning rally against Peachtree Ridge with a game-high 19 points in the second half on Jan. 7.

“At the beginning of the season, she was coming off the bench for us and just added such a spark plug and earned her spot into the starting lineup,” Bailey said. “She just gives a certain amount of athleticism and energy that we always need to get a little push.”

The Titans clawed their way back from 20 down to take a lead with two minutes remaining before the Lions closed it out.

“Obviously you never want to be in position where you’re down 20, but it definitely is refreshing to know that you have a team that is not going to give up, that’s going to keep pushing forward,” Bailey said. “Now the biggest thing for us is making sure we don’t get ourselves in that position.”

Discovery is 15-7 overall and 6-4 in Region 6-AAAAAAA with two games to play. Next week, the Titans finish the regular season with Collins Hill (10-0 region) and Peachtree Ridge (7-3 region) before the 6-AAAAAAA tournament begins.

“We definitely are moving in the right direction,” Bailey said. “We’ve surpassed the school record for wins. We’ve done some things like beat Mill Creek and North Gwinnett for the first time in school history. We’re making small milestones. Obviously winning games is great, but the overall outcome of the season is our biggest goal.

“For us, the biggest goal is to be get that top four seed in the region and be able to make it to state for the first time in school history. We just have to stay positive and keep working hard. We have to show up to play every night. In this region, if you don’t show up, you’re going to get beat.”

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