Lady Wolves strike gold

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS -

The weight of each point seem­ing to count more than face value, Rome and Model bat­tled it out on the basketball court once again Fri­day night to de­ter­mine the right­ful owner of the Gold Ball Tro­phy.

And with one f i nal push, the Lady Wolves man­aged to take this en­try in the ri­valry.

The c ham­pi­onship game stage be­tween Floyd County r i vals Rome and Model, who had com­bined to win 18 of the past 25 Christ­mas Tour­na­ment ti­tles, played out in front of a rau­cous crowd at a packed Cage Cen­ter at Berry Col­lege.

In the end, tour­na­ment MVP Tamiya Grif­fin and the Rome Lady Wolves won a thriller for the ages over the Lady Blue Devils, 54-51. The vic­tory by Rome ends a two-year run for Model as the tour­na­ment champs.

The game was a backand- f orth af­fair, but Tar­rah Gib­son hit two ex­tremely i mpor­tant free throws at the end of the game to put the nail in the cof­fin, and Rome came out on top.

“It’s just what we work on. We work on f ree throws in the game. We work on those clutch sit­u­a­tions, so it’s just a tes­ta­ment to their hard work at prac­tice pay­ing at­ten­tion to the de­tails,” Rome coach Jason Harris said.

The first quar­ter was a de­fen­sive bat­tle as nei­ther team scored many points. Model’s Vic­taria Sax­ton and Tar­rah Gib­son of Rome led both teams with six points each in the pe­riod.

Both Rome and Model traded blows in the sec­ond quar­ter. Five Lady Wolves put the ball in the bas­ket in the pe­riod as Rome took a six-point lead (23-17) at the break.

The fi­nal half proved to be even more ex­cit­ing than the first. Rome (61) led Model un­til late in the fourth quar­ter when Libby Up­ton’s shot put the Lady Blue Devils in front 49-48.

Rome quickly tied the game back up at 49 all, as Madi­son Fielder hit a free throw on the fol­low­ing pos­ses­sion.

Then, Rome’s Re’Tavia Floyd made her two at­tempts at the foul line to put the Lady Wolves up by two. Model’s Nia Allen fol­lowed that up with a game-ty­ing layup.

In the last mo­ments of the game, Justyce Moore made one of her two free throw at­tempts to put Rome ahead by one. Then, on Rome’s next pos­ses­sion, Tar­rah Gib­son nailed both of her free throws to put her team up by three to seal the deal, 54-51.

Model (10-3) was led by the out­stand­ing play of Sax­ton, who had a game­high 20 points and con­trib­uted on the de­fen­sive side of the ball as well with sev­eral steals and mul­ti­ple blocked shots.

For her ef­forts, Sax­ton joined her team­mate Up­ton on the girls’ all­tour­na­ment team. Taya Gib­son and Tar­rah Gib­son led Rome with 15 and 14 points re­spec­tively. Be­sides the team tak­ing home the tour­na­ment tro­phy, Grif­fin, Taya Gib­son and Re’Tavia Floyd were named to the all-tour­na­ment team.

The Rome Wolves were ec­static about the vic­tory, but now their at­ten­tion shifts to re­gion play, and a win in this tour­ney cer­tainly can’t hurt.

“It pre­pares us. We needed a win like this to try to so­lid­ify what we’re try­ing to do,” Harris said.

“We’ve had some lop­sided wins, so it was time for a gut check. I re­ally liked that we kind of bent but didn’t break, which will pre­pare us for our re­gion.”

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