It was exceeding that particular goal which led to the Garden Girls raising the county’s first place trophy for the first time in four years last Saturday at Spring Garden.
After Ricky Austin challenged his squad to keep the No. 2 seed Lady Warriors’ guards to 35 points, Class 1A’s No. 2 team proceeded to limit Class 4A’s No. 3 team to the above total in the No. 1 seed Lady Panthers’ 51-35 victory.
Other than an intense pressure defense that kept the Centre squad’s sharpshooters in check for the better part of 32 minutes, much of the credit for the host team’s win went to Tournament MVP Britney Parris, whose 17 first half points gave the Lady Panthers the cushion they needed down the stretch.
“We challenged Britney to step up it up after the Sand Rock game [last Thursday], and she came through like a champion,” said Austin. “We need her to play like she did tonight in order for us to win big games like this one.”
Also coming through in the clutch was Mikie Garner.
Although her six-pint total was well below her season average, her entire scoring came in the fourth quarter when CCHS still had a shot at the win.
“Mikie didn’t play much in the first half after she picked up a couple of quick fouls, and [CCHS] was double-teaming her most of the game, so her foul shots late in the game really helped us to shut the door,” noted Austin. “Throughout the tournament, our foul shooting was the difference.”
Parris led Spring Garden with 23 points, including four three-point baskets.
Latrisha Abernathy and Paige Anderson each scored 10 points.
Abernathy pulled down nine rebounds, while Parris grabbed eight.
For Cherokee County, Jordan Morgan scored 13 points, while Rachael Kennerly added nine.
Parris’ 11 points helped Spring Garden jump out to a 17-6 first quarter lead, while Abernathy’s basket with 25 seconds remaining in the second period sent the Lady Panthers into the locker room with a 29-13 halftime advantage.
The hosts received baskets only from Abernathy and Anderson in the third frame, but the Lady Warriors managed just eight points themselves, keeping the Garden point cushion at 33-21 heading into the final quarter.
Garner’s basket 15 seconds into the fourth period extended the Panther lead to 13, but Jamie Jackson’s three-pointer at the 4:15 mark drew CCHS within 36-29.
The Lady Warriors failed to close the gap, however, as Garner and Anderson each went 4-for-4 in single bonus situations over the final two minutes, and Parris’ foul shot with 10 seconds left securing Spring Garden’s first county title since 2000.
“This win feels great; anytime that you beat the county’s biggest team is special,” said Austin. “To do it in the county championship makes it even more special. We got tense after missing some early shots, but every girl executed her defensive assignment to perfection. Centre is a well-coached and well-prepared team, so this win is a big relief.”
Joining Parris on the All-Tournament were Garner, Abernathy, Anderson, Jackson, Morgan and Sand Rock’s Taylor Burt and Joni Mitchell.
SPRING GARDEN (51): Britney Parris 23, Latrisha Aber-nathy 10, Paige Anderson 10, Mikie Garner 6, Dusty Gill 2.
CCHS (35): Jordan Morgan 13, Rachael Kennerly 9, Jamie Jackson 5, Jessica Griffith 4, Hally Starr 2, Anna Kisor 2