Stellar defense pulls Lady Jackets past Gaston

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By Chris McCarthy/Editor

A stellar second-half defensive effort sparked Glencoe to a 42-37 win over Gaston in the opening round of the Etowah County Basketball Tournament on Tuesday (Jan. 20) at Gadsden State.

After Abby Elrod’s 3-point basket at 6:43 of the third quarter gave the Lady Bulldogs an eight-point lead, the Lady Yellow Jackets allowed 12 points the rest of the way. Gaston was held scoreless in the final period until 39 seconds remained in the contest.

Glencoe (15-10) responded to Elrod’s trey with seven straight points, and Jessica Rathje’s basket at 2:31 provided the Lady Jackets with a one-point lead. Kaylee Woodall’s layup restored the Lady Dawg advantage at 32-31 entering the fourth quarter, but Gaston did not score again until the game was out of reach.

Rathje’s jump shot six seconds into the fourth quarter gave Glencoe the lead for good, and the Lady Yellow Jackets’ half-court press on defense and sharp ball movement on offense allowed Gaston few scoring opportunities. 

Rathje scored six of her 12 points during the final eight minutes, with her basket at 3:15 stretching Glencoe’s lead to 10 points and essentially putting the game away. Rathje also had eight rebounds.

Sally Tinker followed with 14 points, while Kalleigh Billingsley added nine. Maddie Osborne had four rebounds and three steals.

Glencoe advanced to the semifinal round on Thursday against Southside.

“We reminded the girls at halftime of what their goals were at the beginning of the year, and a stellar performance at the county tournament was one of those goals,” said GHS head coach Yvette Sparks. “I was really proud of the girls for stepping it up in the second half. We established in the fourth quarter that it was going to be defense that would win the game for us, and the girls really dug down in their guts and performed well. I also was very impressed that we were very unselfish on offense and looked for the open man.”

Elrod finished with 21 points, followed by Woodall and Shaniya Wyatt with six each. 

Gaston head coach Tonya Bogle pointed to Glencoe’s ability to take advantage of the Lady Bulldogs’ mistakes as a key factor.

“They did what they had to do to hold on and be patient and wait for us to mess up. We had them exactly where we wanted them (at the start of the second half), and our first four possessions were three missed shots and a turnover. [Glencoe] went down and scored each time, and that was the difference in the game. We just broke down and lost focus and didn’t stay in our game plan during those few minutes, and it cost us. I’m not taking anything away from Glencoe, but other than those four possessions, we played well enough to beat them.” 

It looked as if Glencoe might leave the Lady Bulldogs in the dust early on after opening the game with a 13-2 run, but Elrod’s three-point basket in the final seconds of the first quarter pulled Gaston within 16-9.

The Lady Bulldogs took control in the second frame on both ends of the court. While Gaston held the Lady Jacket offense to Rathje’s field goal at 6:27, Elrod scored eight of the Lady Dawgs’ 16 points to go into the half leading 25-18.

“I was really impressed with Gaston’s tenacity to come out and play so well in the second quarter,” said Sparks. “They hit on a few shots and we were slow on the close-out. We let off the gas a little, and we’ve got to play all four quarters.” 

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