Photo: Gadsden City High’s Cianni Rhodes battles for possession with Spain Park’s Claire Holt (center) and Barrett Herring during the Lady Titans’ 51-48 loss last Tuesday (Nov. 12) at GCHS. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy
One day after the Gadsden City High School girls basketball team suffered through a 47-point Class 7A loss to fourth-ranked Hewitt-Trussville, the Lady Titans gave No. 3 Spain Park all it could handle before falling short by a score of 51-48 last Tuesday (Nov. 12) at GCHS.
The hosts shook off a 9-3 Spain Park run that ended the first half and fought the Lady Jaguars tooth and nail over the final 16 minutes. Darrelyn Rudolph scored eight of her 12 points during the third quarter, including a three-point basket at the 1:40 mark that provided Gadsden City with its first lead since the opening possession of the game.
The visitors took a 36-35 advantage into the fourth period, and the lead changed hands eight times the rest of the way. Neither team led by more than two points down the stretch and the game went down to the final seconds.
Cianni Rhodes helped the Lady Titans (6-6) keep pace with six fourth-quarter points, while Asia Samuels’ fourth three-point basket of the contest put the Lady Titans up 48-47 with 1:12 on the clock.
But Ahrielle Park’s basket 12 seconds later restored the Spain Park lead, and following a missed shot, Gadsden City was forced to foul to regain possession. The Lady Titans sent Bailey Bowers to the free throw line with under 20 seconds remaining.
Bowers missed the front end of a one-and-one but Parks cleared the rebounds and was fouled. She also failed to convert a one-and-one, and this time GCHS got the rebound. The Lady Titans turned the ball over at midcourt, however, and Bowers soon converted a pair of free throws to give the visitors a 51-48 lead with just under three seconds left.
Gadsden City called its final timeout to set up a game-tying three-pointer, but the ensuing shot attempt was off the mark.
GCHS head coach Jeremy Brooks was proud of the way his team battled after its lopsided loss the night before in Birmingham.
“I was very impressed with our effort, because it could have been easy to come back tonight and lay down. We’ve had a pretty rough schedule so far and we did a great job of competing against a very good team without a practice. Our girls really stepped up tonight and fought hard. We also struggled with shooting over the past few games, so it was good to get back on track in that area tonight, especially with transition points.”
Mia Davis scored 12 points for the Lady Titans, followed by Rhodes with eight, Brittney Watts with six and Kenya Gueye with five. Rhodes also had 10 rebounds.
Watts’ three-pointer in the game’s opening minute gave the hosts the early advantage, but GCHS scored only once more from the field in the first quarter. Spain Park responded to Watts’ trey with 10 straight points on the way to a 15-6 lead after eight minutes.
The Lady Titans held the visitors scoreless for the first five and a half minutes of the second period, and Rhodes’ basket at 3:15 capped a 10-0 GCHS run. The Lady Jaguars responded with a 9-3 stretch that made it 24-19 at intermission.
Brooks said that he did not make major strategy changes at halftime. Instead, he focused on matching up personnel with the athletic Lady Jaguars.
“There wasn’t too much in the way of x’s and o’s adjustments, and I think both coaches stuck with their game plans. It just came down to execution at the end and a little bit of which way the ball bounced.”
Claire Holt led Spain Park with 18 points, followed by Bowers with 13 and Barrett Herring with eight.
“We’ll make some adjustments here or there as the season goes along,” said Brooks. “Hopefully we’re headed in the right direction.”