The Class 4A, No. 8 Cherokee County Lady Warriors (12-2) and Class 2A’s top-ranked team, the Woodland Lady Bobcats (10-0) earned the right to play for the tournament title again this year following their impressive semifinal performances on Friday.
The Lady Warriors routed Class 1A, No. 9 Spring Garden 49-19, while the Lady Bobcats disposed of Class 3A, No. 8 Glencoe 57-28.
Woodland won last year’s girls championship game 59-50. The rematch is set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
“Whatever happens tomorrow night, we’re in the championship game, and that game is only going to make us better,” Cherokee County coach Travis Barnes said. “If we win the championship, that’s great. It’s a good thing for our girls. If we don’t, we’re going to get a good game to get some experience going into Christmas break.”
Woodland head coach Larry Strain echoes Barnes’ sentiments.
“It’s always exciting for us to come up here because of the competition level,” he said. “Basketball seems to be a whole lot more serious and they’re a lot more competitive up here. We always enjoy coming up here against good competition. To be fortunate enough to be in the championship game against Cherokee County is really something special.”
Both teams wasted little time against their respective opponents Friday.
The Lady Warriors jumped out to a 17-8 first quarter lead against Spring Garden (9-6) and let their defense take care of things from there.
They held the Lady Panthers scoreless in the second quarter, taking a 24-8 halftime advantage into the locker room. It was more the same in the second half, as the Lady Warriors allowed just 11 points the final two quarters.
“Not too many times do I apologize to other coaches for not being able to compete with them and make it a little bit more of a challenge,” Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin said. “I hated that Centre had to play us today. It was almost like they were playing five ghost men out there. You’ve got to give them credit for exposing us that way. Big disappointment in how we did not compete, but a lot of that was Centre.”
A major thorn in Spring Garden’s side was Lady Warrior senior forward Tori Davis. She netted 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had three steals to lead her team to victory.
“We knew they were going to have a game plan to try and stop her,” Barnes said. “They kind of did what Sand Rock did, but what makes Tori good is her offensive rebounding. She does a good job there, and she’s also patient in the post. She knows when to pick her times, and our guards do a good job of getting the ball to her also.”
Chelsea Ray added nine points, four assists and three rebounds. Darbie Rosser scored eight points and Madison Brannon finished with five points, 10 boards and three assists.
Auburn Kirk was the lone double-digit scorer for the Lady Panthers. She came away with 10 points, four rebounds and four steals.
“Auburn Kirk competed,” Austin said. “She played hard on both sides of the ball.”
Haley Motes added five points and four boards. Darian Gaines grabbed six rebounds.
“We knew they were going to shoot the ball from the outside, but our goal was to make them shoot with a hand in their face,” Barnes said. “If they hit those shots, then they were going to beat us, but we did a good job defensively. We contested all their shots and we did a good job rebounding. We didn’t give them many second chances, and that led to them not scoring.”
The same formula worked for Woodland against Glencoe. The Lady Bobcats jumped out to a 33-16 halftime advantage and held a 42-24 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“Glencoe’s a great team, but I think they just kind of caught us at the wrong time,” Strains said. “We played well, especially early. We played good defense and that was big in the game.”
Leah Strain led the Lady Bobcats with 28 points. Jaide Walker added eight points and Shanna Strain contributed seven points.
Jordan Sims was the high scorer for Glencoe (9-4) with seven points. Laura Poovey finished with six points.
Glencoe will take on Spring Garden in the tournament’s third-place game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
The following is a wrap-up of the rest of Friday’s girls tournament action.
Collinsville 49, Cedar Bluff 33
CENTRE – Christy Cox came away with 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists to lead the Collinsville Lady Panthers past Cedar Bluff 49-33 in the Cherokee Invitational consolation bracket on Friday at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
Cox connected on four 3-pointer for Collinsville (10-3).
Savannah Boyles contributed 14 points for the Lady Panthers. Kendria Moore managed eight points and six rebounds. Jamie Roberts finished with six points and seven boards.
Hannah Leach and Audrianna Hargitt led Cedar Bluff (7-8) with 10 points apiece. Leach also had eight rebounds, while Hargitt posted six boards.
Katie McGinnis finished with five points, three rebounds and a steal.
The game was tight throughout the first half. Collinsville held a 9-8 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 20-15 at halftime. The Lady Panthers stretched their lead to seven at 32-25 at the end of the third quarter, then went on a 17-10 run in the fourth for the final.
Sand Rock 53, Gaylesville 12
CENTRE – Emily Langley netted 13 points and Amber Ashley added eight points to propel the Sand Rock Lady Wildcats to a 53-12 basketball victory over Gaylesville in the Cherokee Invitational consolation bracket on Friday at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
Madison Smith contributed seven points for the Lady Wildcats (10-4). Shelley Sonaty and Courtney Rowe both finished with six points.
Sand Rock led 12-8 at the end of the first quarter and pushed its advantage to 33-9 at halftime. The Lady Wildcats led 46-10 at the end of the third quarter.
Angie Calvert led Gaylesville (4-6) with four points and five rebounds. Taylor Tomlin tallied three points and nine boards. Lauren Hammett finished with a bucket, six boards and three steals.