By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
Sand Rock knew exactly what it had to do last Saturday (Feb. 9) in the Class 2A, Area 11 Tournament championship game – clear the glass more times that Gaston did.
The ninth-ranked Lady Wildcats accomplished that goal on the way to a 43-30 victory.
“We lost the game on the boards and at the free throw line,” said Gaston head coach Tonya Bogle. “We only had nine rebounds for the game, and Sand Rock was getting three or four shots each time down court.”
Sand Rock also shot 17 free throws to only four for Gaston.
Sand Rock (20-8) hosts Section in Thursday’s subregional round, while Gaston (10-18) travels to No. 3 North Sand Mountain.
Gaston defeated West End, 43-37, in the tournament semifinals on Feb. 7, while Sand Rock posted a 59-38 win over Westbrook Christian.
Keirra Porter scoring six of Gaston’s first eight points of the game, but Sand Rock led 11-8 after the first eight minutes of play.
Porter was Gaston’s leading scorer with 12 points.
Gaston’s inability to rebound against the larger Sand Rock team, as well as the Lady Bulldogs’ shortcomings at the 3-point line, proved to be the visitors’ downfall.
Meanwhile, Sand Rock went inside time after time to Madison Smith and built a 24-17 lead at the half.
The third quarter was more of the same, as the Lady Wildcats went inside more and more. Emily Langley’s third 3-point basket of the game increased the Sand Rock lead to 30-22 after three quarters.
Smith continued to flourish inside and the Lady Dawgs had to foul. Smith was 4-of-4 from the free throw line in scoring six of her game-high 14 points down the stretch.