By Mike Goodson/Sports Correspondent
The Gadsden State womens basketball team fell just short in its quest for the Alabama Community College Conference state championship on Wednesday (Mar. 5), losing to Shelton State, 75-65 in Hanceville.
The Lady Cardinals (28-6) shot just 24 percent from the field in the first half and fell behind 35-28 after the first 20 minutes of play.
Gadsden State did take a brief one-point lead with 16:28 to go in the first half, but the taller Shelton State team took the ball inside and led by as many as 10 points with 2:48 to go in the opening half.
Taylor Frazier kept the Lady Cardinals close by scoring 10 points in the first half with Lacey Buchanon adding six.
Shelton State will represent Region 22 at the NJCAA National Tournament in Salina, KS, on March 17-22.
Gadsden State head coach John Butts had nothing but praise for his team after the emotional game.
“We felt we were in trouble when we were able to get the ball in the paint but could not get to the free throw line. Shelton is a good team. We played four games in four days and beat three good teams. We just came up a little short. We represented our town well and played our hearts out.”
GSCC shot 30.5 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from three-point range.
The second half saw Gadsden State turn the heat up on the Lady Bucs. Buchanon provided a much-needed spark as the Lady Cardinals cut the lead to a single point over the first two minutes of the second half.
“We came out playing more excited,” said Buchanon, who was named ACCC player of the year after the game. “As the leader of the team, I feel I must play my hardest. We began the second half playing like we normally do.”
Buchanon ended the night with 25 points before fouling out late in the contest.
Shelton State used its height advantage and solid free throw shooting to slowly pull away over the final 10 minutes. The Lady Bucs made 25-of-34 free throw attempts (74 percent) while Gadsden State was 26-of-41 (63 percent) from the charity stripe.
Gadsden State cut the Buccaneer lead to single digits at 73-65 with 30 remaining but got no closer.
Frazier finished with 14 points. Taylor Adams added nine points and nine rebounds, while Shuntece Catlin chipped in eight.
Carla Clemmons pulled down sis rebounds.
Amber Yelding scored 14 points for Shelton State (30-3), followed by Kendara Watts and Shadijah Moore with 12 each.
Buchanon, Adams and Sarah Garner were named to the all-tournament team.
Buchanon was named to the All-Region 22 first team, while Adams was named to the second team.
Buchanon and Adams were selected to the ACCC North Division first team. Buchanon was named North Division Player of the Year.
Buchanon will continue her career next season at Troy, while Adams signed with Shorter College in Rome, Ga.
Gadsden State outscored Wallace State-Hanceville, 39 to 23, in the second half to post a 70-45 victory in the tournament semifinals on Tuesday (Mar. 4).
Buchanon paced GSCC with 22 points while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists.
Sarah Garner added 10 points and eight boards, while Clemmons chipped in nine points and eight rebounds.
Adams pulled down 13 rebounds, while Jordan Gray had six.
In Monday’s quarterfinal round, Buchanon scored 23 points as Gadsden State defeated Alabama Southern, 69-49.
Garner and Adams each scored nine points, followed by Clemmons, Frazier and Calishia Parker with six each.
Buchanon, Clemmons and Parker each grabbed five rebounds, while Buchanon distributed five assists.
Gadsden State opened the tournament with a 75-49 win over Bishop State on Sunday (Mar. 2).
Buchanon scored 12 points, followed by Frazier with 11 and Mitzi Grizzard with 10.
Garner added nine points and eight rebounds, while Adams contributed eight points and nine boards.
Clemmons chipped in seven points and eight rebounds, while Savannah Ward finished with six points.
“We played our hearts out,” said Butts. “I’m thankful to Jesus Christ for allowing me to coach this team. We won 53 games over the past years. Two years is just not enough time; they’re such good kids.”