GC girls make pro­gram his­tory, earn­ing first State berth

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS SATURDAY - By Alex Far­rer

– The name of the game in high school bas­ket­ball is to get hot at the right time, and the Gor­don Cen­tral Lady War­riors have ac­com­plished that in the last few games.

Gor­don Cen­tral con­tin­ued their trend of play­ing their best ball of the sea­son on Tues­day night and turned it into pro­gram his­tory with a 73-63 vic­tory over Ar­muchee at the Re­gion 7-AA Tour­na­ment to clinch their first-ever state tour­na­ment berth.

“I’m so proud of our girls and their ef­fort,” said Gor­don Cen­tral coach Matt Swan­son. “They were so ner­vous be­fore the game, but they came out and played so well. Ev­ery­one that played tonight con­trib­uted to this win.

“This is his­tory for our pro­gram. For us to earn our first state tour­na­ment berth is in­cred­i­ble. These girls have put in the work and ef­fort to get bet­ter and ac­com­plish this goal. Our goal back when we went to camp over the sum­mer was to make the state tour­na­ment, and we made that hap­pen. We came to­gether as a team, and I’m proud to coach these girls. This is a his­toric day for us.”

The Lady War­riors (9-13) came out con­fi­dently in the game and main­tained an ag­gres­sive mind­set through­out all four quar­ters. They hit four 3-point­ers in the first quar­ter to lead 16-13 at the end of the pe­riod. Af­ter Ar­muchee (13-12) ral­lied to take a 22-21 lead mid­way through the sec­ond, Gor­don Cen­tral went on a 10-2 run to take a 31-24 lead into the locker room.

Ar­muchee showed re­siliency in the third quar­ter, specif­i­cally se­nior Livia Skin­ner, who scored 10 points in that pe­riod alone to pull her team within two at 42-40 late in the quar­ter, but Gor­don Cen­tral an­swered once again to push their lead back out to 50-41 head­ing to the fourth.

The Lady Indians made one fi­nal charge early in the fourth to cut the deficit to 54-50, but that was as close as they got as the trio of Mercedes Cole­man, Cara Crump and Cheyenne Tem­ple closed the game out with some big buck­ets and free throws for Gor­don Cen­tral.

The fresh­man Cole­man led all scor­ers in the game with 30 points, in­clud­ing nine in the fourth quar­ter. Crump had a huge night as well with 24 points, in­clud­ing four 3-point­ers, and Tem­ple added eight points from her post po­si­tion.

“I told the girls be­fore the game to be ag­gres­sive and play to win, and they lis­tened,” said Swan­son. “We were ag­gres­sive un­til the very end. Even in the fourth quar­ter when most teams with a lead would try to use some clock, our girls kept go­ing to the bas­ket and try­ing to score. Mercedes and Cara played about as well as a combo could play tonight. We got some scor­ing in the post tonight too from Cheyenne and Bai­ley (Fer­gu­son). It was just an in­cred­i­ble night for us.”

Skin­ner led Ar­muchee with 29 points as she scored 20 in the sec­ond half alone.

The win moves Gor­don Cen­tral into the re­gion semi­fi­nals on Fri- day against Rock­mart at 7 p.m. Swan­son said his team would cel­e­brate the State berth but quickly turn their at­ten­tion to get­ting ready for the Lady Jack­ets.

“We’re go­ing to take the day off to­mor­row and en­joy this one some,” said Swan­son. “But we’re go­ing to get ready to play Rock­mart on Fri­day and try to carry some of this mo­men­tum over to that game. We’ve never played in the state tour­na­ment be­fore, but if we can win against Rock­mart we can add host­ing a state tour­na­ment game to our list of firsts.”

The four Gor­don Cen­tral se­niors had a lot to say after­wards.

“I’m so happy,” said se­nior Les­lie Gu­tier­rez. “This is the first time ever for the Gor­don Cen­tral girls team to make it to State, and for it to be our se­nior class that was a part of it means so much.”

“It’s crazy… we’ve gone through so much, ups and downs, two coaches, but our hard work has def­i­nitely paid off,” added se­nior Olivia Flem­ing.

“I’m so proud for my team,” said se­nior Bai­ley Fer­gu­son. “We worked to­gether to make this hap­pen. It wasn’t one per­son that did it, it was all of us work­ing to­gether since this past sum­mer.”

“This means a lot to all of us,” added se­nior JaBre­sha Evans. “We had to go through so much to get here, but we’ve worked hard ev­ery day this year and for the past few years and now we’re go­ing to State.”

Pho­tos by TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

( Gor­don Cen­tral play­ers and fans cel­e­brate as the fi­nal horn sounds on Tues­day in their win over Ar­muchee. ( Gor­don Cen­tral’s Mercedes Cole­man (left) drives past Ar­muchee’s Kar­son Fallin in the sec­ond half.

TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

Gor­don Cen­tral’s Cara Crump (left) shoots a 3-pointer over Ar­muchee’s Livia Skin­ner in the sec­ond half.

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