By Chris McCarthy/Editor
Gaston hung tough for the better part of three quarters on Tuesday (Dec. 3), but Hokes Bluff’s experience came through down the stretch in a 47-36 victory in girls high school basketball at HBHS.
With the game tied at 22-22 at halftime, Hokes Bluff (4-2) took the lead for good when sophomore forward Carley Ball knocked down a pair of 3-point baskets in the final minute of the third quarter for a 32-28 advantage.
The Lady Bulldogs enjoyed their biggest lead of the night at 28-24 on Destiny Allen’s two foul shots with 3:37 remaining in the quarter.
The visitors drew within four points by way of Shaniya Foster’s layup two minutes into the fourth period, but five straight points from Sydney Ball helped extend the Lady Eagle lead to 42-34 with 2:15 left.
Senior point guard Carlie Shields provided Hokes Bluff with a double-digit advantage in the game’s final minute with a field goal and a pair of foul shots.
Hannah Evans led the Lady Eagles with 13 points, while Shields finished with nine.
Kendall Johnson pulled down seven rebounds, followed by Evans, Tylynn Register and Sydney Ball with six each.
Shields dished out five assists, while Chelsea Machleit came up with four steals.
“We had 37 rebounds tonight and 14 of them were offensive, so that was huge for us,” said Hokes Bluff head coach Jason Shields. “But we’re a little bigger than [Gaston] in spots, so we should’ve rebounded the ball well. We really needed it, because we came out sluggish. “
Abby Elrod paced Gaston with 12 points, followed by Allen with nine and Wyatt with seven.
“I thought we lost it on the boards tonight,” said Gaston head coach Tonya Bogle. “[Hokes Bluff] was getting two or three [shot attempts] every time they went down there, and what killed us. I thought that we did a good job defensively, but we didn’t get the rebounds when they missed a shot.
“We knew we weren’t going to stop Carlie and Hannah, but we just couldn’t let the other players beat us, and that’s what happened. We’ve got a long way to go, but our girls are getting better with every game.”
Seven points from Evans helped the Lady Eagles come out of the first quarter with a 12-4 advantage. Her 3-point basket at 6:18 of the second period made it 15-6 in favor of the hosts.
Two straight 3-pointers from Elrod kept the Lady Bulldogs close, however, and the junior guard scored Gaston’s final six points of the half to provide Gaston with a 22-20 lead before Shields’ bucket with four seconds remaining forced the halftime tie.
“We’re not playing with a lot of chemistry right now, but I think that will come as the season goes along,” said Jason Shields. “But like I told our girls, I’d rather start out slow and end well.”