By Matthew Martin/Sports Correspondent
Senior night is a special occasion for any athlete. It’s even more memorable when his/her team wins the game that goes along with the pomp and circumstance.
That and more happened last Tuesday (Jan. 29), as Gadsden City High sent its seven seniors out with a pair blowout wins over Huffman – 66-48 in the boys’ game and 55-33 for the Lady Titans.
“To beat the teams we will have to beat to win a state championship, we’ve got to be more under control and take care of possessions,” Gadsden City boys head coach Reginald Huff said. “[Huffman] won their area and are a team that could end up in Jacksonville at the Northeast Regional. I was really pleased with how we handled them.”
There are not many seniors on GCHS either team – three boys and four girls. But in honoring Michael Peoples, Tracy Rhodes and Khalid Cannon, the Titan offense made sure the good mood would carry over onto the court.
The Gadsden City boys (14-9) connected on 71 percent of their two-point field goals. It also made a high percentage from long range, hitting 7-of-17 3-point shots, for 41 percent.
Gadsden City had a clean first two quarters, committing just four turnovers on the way to a 35-21 halftime lead.
Although the game got a little sloppy in the second half with the Titans turning over the ball 11 times, the game was never in doubt.
“Tonight, we ended up with 15 turnovers,” Huff said. “In the first half, we only had four turnovers. But then when I sub and try to get the other guys in the ballgame, then our turnovers go way up. And that’s what we have been struggling with, turnovers.”
Jeff Garrett had a monster game for Gadsden City with 19 points and 11 rebounds, including six on the offensive end.
One of those offensive boards brought the crowd to its feet. Following a missed fast-break lay-up, Garrett grabbed the rebound off the glass on the fly for a two-handed dunk over a pair of Viking defenders.
Also for the Titans, Rakim Lubin scored 18 points and hauled in seven rebounds, while Chris Dudley chipped in 13 points and grabbed three rebounds.
In the girls game, the Lady Titans had a slow start, committing seven first-quarter turnovers. Gadsden City led the Lady Vi-kings 5-4 heading into the second quarter.
“We came out a little flat,” Gadsden City girls coach Jeremy Brooks said. “It was senior night and it wasn’t an area opponent, and we are a little bit tired. So that probably had a lot to do with us being so flat. We were flat offensively, but defensively we were good. I think we are a real solid team on defense now.”
The play was better for Gadsden City in the second quarter, as it extended its lead to 20-11 at the half.
The nine-point advantage could have been larger had the Lady Titans converted a few shots from long range. Gadsden City was 0-for-7 from the 3-point line in the first half, thanks to its inside game, the long-range deficiency did not matter.
The Lady Titans made six field goals in the paint and were able to get to the free throw line off post play and back door cuts.
Gadsden City got to the foul line several times, but only converted 6-of-12 free throws in the first two quarters.
Huffman’s offense came alive in the third quarter. Shafuria Kines scored seven points in the frame to help the Lady Vikings keep the game relatively close.
Gadsden City’s Brooke Burns also had a big third quarter. On senior night, the eighth-grade guard scored six of her team-high 16 points in the third period, as the Titans extended their lead to 33-23 heading into the fourth quarter.
Senior Hannah Harris hit a lay-up and a 3-pointer in the final two minutes of the game to end the night with 13 points.
The Titans’ other three seniors – Alyah Jackson, Dewaynna Martin and Chelsea Knight – scored eight, six and six points, respectively.
Daija Williams scored four points and had a big game on the boards, pulling down 12 rebounds. Takara Blount had five steals and dished out four assists.
Huffman’s Kines led all scorers with 22 points.