The Gilmer Bobcats traveled to Dalton for the Region 7AAAA Tournament on Wednesday night to take on the Ridgeland Panthers in a quarterfinal matchup. The Cats were able to overcome a slow start and pounce on the Panthers in the 2nd half, winning 78-62.The Panthers started the scoring, hitting a long three pointer a minute into the game. Will Marshall’s put back opened the scoring for the Cats, but this didn’t slow down the Panthers as they took an early lead. The Cats were able to fight back and cut the deficit by displaying strong defense. Two steals by the quick-handed Connor Webber led to two baskets for the Cats. Marshall’s hustle as he dove for a loose ball led to a Joe Bob Charles lay-in. Paired with a Corey Waters two-pointer, the Cats had pulled within five, 20-15.
The Cats come into the 2nd trailing, and they didn’t intend on it being that way long. Wheeler Lancey hit one of his three three-pointers :15 seconds into the 2nd quarter. The Cats were relentless in their pursuit, finally taking the lead on a pair of made free throws from Taner Reece at the 5:15 mark. The Cats’ strong resurgence forced Ridgeland into a timeout with 4:20 remaining in the half. A few free throws later, and the Cats were on top 34-24 at the half.
The Panthers were fouled by Marshall to start the 3rd quarter, and they converted the free throws. Lancey scored the first basket for the Cats on an assist by Charles. The quick hands of the Cats defense kept forcing turnovers and leading to fast break baskets for Gilmer, who had opened up a 40-29 lead at the 4:57 mark. With two minutes left in the quarter, Ridgeland turns on the heat with a full court press, leading to steals and points for the Panthers. Coach Hice called a timeout to stop the bleeding, and he was fired up in the huddle. The intensity that he showed translated to the game, as Lancey hit his third three-pointer of the night. The ensuing inbound was stolen by Lancey and he dished it to Webber for another quick two. Marshall hit a smooth buzzer beater to close out period with an 11-0 run by the Bobcats. The score going into the 4th was 55-38.
The Cats opened their lead up even further with two quick steals and buckets in the first :30. Ridgeland’s head coach called a timeout trailing 65-42. With such a big lead, the Cats were able to get some of the younger players in. During this time, the Panthers were finally able to put a scoring run together, but it was too late, as Gilmer roared to a 78-62 win.
The Bobcats play in the semifinals this Friday against Dalton. The game will be at Dalton High School, and is set to tipoff at 5:30 PM. If the Cats win, they will move on to the Championship game Saturday at 7:30.
Gilmer’s leading scorers were Webber with 27, Lancey with 15, and Charles with 12. Waters and Marshall chipped in eight points, and Reece had six.