CONYERS – Stephanie Susen and Whitney Mayo combined for 20 first-half points Saturday and that punch, plus eight points from sophomore Liz Coffey, gave Dalton a lead that was too much for Rockdale County to overcome.

Posting a 68-55 victory over Rockdale in the opening round of the Class 4A state tournament, the Lady Cats led by 16 points most of the first half.

“This feels really good,” said Mayo, who finished with 16 points, as did Lacie Coquerille. “We now have at least one more game and it’s back in Dalton at the trade center. And we’ll have a hometown crowd there for us.”

The execution of their offense in the first half paved the way for what was really a fairly easy victory, despite a lull in the third quarter when Rockdale County sliced the Lady Cats’ lead to 42-36.

Rockdale’s Angelique Burtts led her team’s rally after halftime point-wise, but the Lady Bulldogs’ Kiara Holloway walked away with Dalton’s respect.

“Burtts was pretty good, but we did a nice job defending her,” said Susen, who had a game-high 18 points and played much of the fourth quarter with four fouls.

“That No. 3 was a really good guard who could penetrate,” Susen added. “We had to stop her toward the end of the game.”

With Dalton minimizing Burtts’ effectiveness in the first half, the Lady Cats gained control of the ballgame.

“We didn’t execute in the first half,” Rockdale coach Leonard Buckner said. “We talked about the box-and-one all week because we thought they would use it on Angelique.”

That’s exactly what Dalton did.

And while Burtts had trouble scoring the Lady Cats were firing away, getting easy looks inside and solid perimeter shooting from Coquerille and Mayo.

“We thought we could be successful inside,” Dalton coach Jeff McKinney said. “We got some easy looks and when we have several girls scoring we’re a much better team.”

That was clearly evident here Saturday.

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