After dropping a pair of games to usher in the new year, the GCHS girls’ basketball team picked up back-to-back wins over Bledsoe County and Marion County last week to get back into the win column.
The Lady Jackets (10-9, 0-1 7-2A) routed Bledsoe 74-36 on the road last Tuesday and completed the season sweep of Marion Saturday with a 58-43 win over the Warriors in Coalmont.
GCHS earned its first win since Dec. 21 with the 38-point beatdown of Bledsoe County. Three registered double-digit points in the victory, paced by 20 from junior Carlee Smartt, as part of a relentless offensive showing. Grundy scored a whopping 24 points in the first quarter to take an early 18-point lead.
The Warriors managed just 18 points in each half against the stout Lady Jackets’ defense.
“I thought we played a really solid game against Bledsoe,” head coach Brittany Woodlee said. “We moved the ball efficiently, were smart with our shot selection and defended extremely well. I was really proud of our effort.”
Smartt scored her 20 on nine 2-point buckets and a 2-for-4 clip from the free-throw line. Sophomore Jaidys McDaniel finished with a second-most 14 points and freshman Gracie Panter pitched in 12 points.
The Lady Jackets turned their attention to Saturday’s game against heated rival Marion County after Friday’s matchup at Cascade was postponed due to inclement weather.
An extremely physical game from start to finish, Grundy outmuscled the Warriors and kept its composure in a matchup that featured plenty of pushing, shoving and chirping between the adversaries.
“That was our most physical game of the season, but that’s to be expected when we play Marion,” Woodlee said. “It’s a great rivalry, and I was proud of how our girls handled the game. We kept our composure, didn’t let the talking get to us and just took care of business. That’s the first time this year I feel like we didn’t give into those temptations and draw unnecessary fouls.”
The Grundy offense struggled in the early goings. GCHS led by just three points at the end of the first quarter, but Panter stepped up with some big shots to keep the Lady Jackets in control. The freshman scored 12 of Grundy’s 17 first-period points and tallied another four points in the second. Panter hit three 3-pointers in the opening half and went on to finish with a team-best 18 points for the game.
“Gracie was outstanding for us,” Woodlee said. “Had it not been for her, we might have trailed by 10 in the first half.”
After the rocky start, the GCHS offense settled in and the defense went to work. The Lady Jackets allowed the Warriors to score just two points in the second quarter and took a 32-16 lead into the half.
Despite trailing by as many as 22 points, head coach Kasey Woodlee’s Warriors battled back to within 12 with less than four minutes to play. Jacy Gatlin hit a 3-pointer at the 3:56 mark to pull the GCHS lead down to 51-39, but a pair of free throws from Grundy’s Wrylee McDaniel and another from Kasadee Crabtree helped extend the advantage back to 16.
Following Panter’s 18 points, McDaniel finished with a second-most 13 and Crabtree registered 11. Marion’s Milan Pemberton led MCHS in scoring with nine points.
Grundy hosted Van Buren County Tuesday, but results were not available at press time.
The Yellow Jackets return to Ricky Richards Gym Friday, Jan. 20 to take on Community High School. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. and will serve as basketball’s homecoming game. The Jackets and Lady Jackets are partnering with the GCHS Sports Hall of Fame to honor the members of the 2013, 2003, 1993, 1983, 1973, 1963, 1953 and 1943 basketball teams during halftime of the boys’ game. Alumni wishing to participate in the on-court recognition may sign up at the ticket table the night of the game.
The GCHS visits Cascade Monday, Jan. 23 to make up for last week’s postponed contest. Tip is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Bell Buckle. The Yellow Jackets return home Tuesday, Jan. 24 to host Bledsoe County at 6 p.m.
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