The eighth-grade girls 2015-16 North Georgia Mountain League championship tournament play-in game went to the Fannin County Middle School Lady Rebels, as they defeated the Clear Creek Middle School Lady Cats 37-21 Tuesday night at Riverview Middle School to advance to the semifinals.
Fannin established its dominance from the outset, but was aided by a bevy of bad Lady Cats passes that led to steals and turnovers for the Lady Rebels defense. Thanks to five first-quarter steals, Fannin led 15-2 at the end of the first period.
A Bailey Teague foul shot and a basket from Emily Dale was the only offense Clear Creek generated in the second. The Lady Rebels capped off a 27-point first half when Saidee Collins delivered a putback at the halftime buzzer.
The Lady Cats managed to outscore the Lady Rebels in the third quarter, but still trailed 32-13 at the end of the period. Although Clear Creek turned up its defense in the second half, including 12 rebounds and five steals, the deficit proved to be too much to overcome.
“We struggled offensively, which has been the story all year,” said CCMS coach Ashley Bryant. “But we did win the second half. They even said (after the game), ‘If we had played the first quarter the way we played the second half, it would have been completely different.’ It was good for them to see that.”
Fannin advanced to face the number-one seeded Riverview Lady Eagles in the tournament semifinals with the 37-21 victory. The loss left the eighth-grade Lady Cats with a 5-8 overall record for the year.
When asked about the season overall, Bryant expressed satisfaction in spite of the end result. “They have improved so much, from the beginning to the end. They knew it was going to be a difficult season, but they believed in themselves. It provided a bunch of motivation and I was glad to see them grow not just as players, but I’ve seen so much maturity from them as the season progressed. It’s not always about basketball. At times, it’s about life lessons, learning from things and I’ve seen a lot of growth from each of them. I’m very proud of them. I hate it ended the way it did, but it was a good chance to coach a good group of girls.”
The 2015-16 NGML tournament continues tomorrow and Saturday, at both Dawson Middle School and Riverview.
STATS (Lady Rebels):
Eryn Mealer: 12 points, three rebounds, three steals, 4/7 on free throws.
Ashton Davis: 11 points, two rebounds, one steal, 2/2 on free throws.
Saidee Collins: Six points, five rebounds, one steal.
Brook Patton: Three points, two steals.
Olivia Atkins: Three points.
Cassidy Nichols: Two points, two rebounds.
Anna Holloway: Four rebounds, one steal.
Morgan Holt: Three steals, two rebounds, one block.
Arene Chambers: Two rebounds, one steal.
STATS (Lady Cats):
Dinah Bragg: Seven points, one steal, 5/7 on free throws.
Emily Dale: Five points, four rebounds, one block, 1/2 on free throws.
Bailey Teague: Four points, five steals, three rebounds, 4/9 on free throws.
Josie Reece: Three points, three rebounds.
Jalynn Ledford: Two points, nine rebounds, two steals, 2/4 on free throws.
Anne Elise Williams: Two rebounds.