The 2015-16 Gilmer High School Lady Cats campaign came to an end last night, with the final overall record for the season tallying to 17-9.
However, it took a number one state-seeded team to end Gilmer’s season, as the Marist Lady War Eagles picked up a 41-34 victory over the Lady Cats last night in the first round of the state tournament in Dunwoody.
The final score, however, fails to capture just how mightily the Lady Cats fought and clawed their way to a near-victory.
“They’ve had a great year and they wanted it tonight. They were passionate, aggressive and intense,” said Gilmer coach Kim Charles. “The chips might not have fell our way, but they need to walk out of here with their heads held high and be proud of themselves.”
Displaying an intensity that seemed to be missing from the Region 7-4A tournament last weekend at Southeast Whitfield High School in Dalton, Gilmer kept Marist on its toes throughout the first quarter. A late three-point shot from Emily Sanford even gave the Lady Cats a 9-6 advantage. However, the War Eagles fought back with a bucket and two free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining in the period to garner a 10-9 lead.
The battle raged on until halftime. Emily Reece connected with a layup as 1:44 remained before the break that tied the game at 19-19. Marist responded by shutting down Gilmer for the remainder of the second quarter and put up five points to open up a 24-19 halftime advantage.
Sanford closed the lead to four in the third quarter, with a basket that put the War Eagles lead at 26-22 with less than two minutes left. Marist again went on a scoring binge in response, while Sanford provided two more points for Gilmer and leave the Lady Cats with a 32-24 deficit to overcome in the fourth quarter.
Although GHS was unable to fully overcome the Marist lead, the effort put forth to accomplish the task was enough to give the Cats some much-needed momentum. Sanford landed a pair of foul shots, before a bucket from Hannah Jones cut the Eagles lead down to 34-32 with 1:50 left in the contest.
Marist responded as it had the entire contest, with a scoring run that trumped Gilmer. Even after free throws from Kaylee Deyton and Jones kept the War Eagles advantage at 37-34, the late need to foul to regain possession proved to be costly, as leading Marist scorer Dominique Oden (28 points, 9/9 on free throws) sank four of her nine foul shots on the night to help propel the Lady Eagles to the second round of the state playoffs.
“They played with a lot of passion and a lot of heart. That’s what matters,” Charles said. “They were pushing the ball offensively. Defensively, we were getting rebounds. I do think they (Marist) did a good job on blocking us out on the offensive end. We had a few putbacks that we should’ve put in … that we didn’t. If we have had a few more shots go in, a few more offensive rebounds … we would’ve won the ball game. It was just that type of game.”
Charles also bid farewell to her senior players, listing their accomplishments and how proud she is to have been a part of their career. “The seniors have had a great career,” Charles said. “They couldn’t ask for much more. They’ve been to state three times and went to the Sweet 16 last year. They came in as pretty good players and they’re going out as really good players. They’ve been a really good representation for Gilmer Lady Cats basketball.”
Hannah Jones: 10 points, three rebounds, two steals, 4/7 on free throws.
Emily Sanford: Nine points, one rebound, one steal, 2/2 on free throws.
Kaylee Deyton: Five points, three rebounds, 1/2 on free throws.
Emily Reece: Four points, six rebounds, two steals, 2/4 on free throws.
Baylee Burnette: Two points, three rebounds, one block.
Harley Weaver: Two points, two rebounds.
Sarah Aaron: Two points, one steal, 2/3 on free throws.
Taylor Boling: One steal, one rebound.
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