GISA Region 1-AAA
Lady Hawks roll into title game
by Chris Goltermann
The Heritage School's girls may have still been one victory away from reaching a potential trip to the GISA Region 1-AAA basketball finals heading into Tuesday's tournament game.
But the Lady Hawks have been taught by head coach D.J. Clay to treat every opponent like a No. 1 ranked team.
They sure played like one on their home floor.
Looking little like a lineup that hadn't played since Valentine's Day following an opening-round bye, top-seeded Heritage showed rival Trinity Christian little love in a dominating 48-15 victory that that would have made Clay just as proud had it come on the football field from his supervision as the school's defensive coordinator.
The Lady Hawks (22-3) held a talented Trinity team that had tallied as many as 47 points over three meetings between county rivals scoreless for the first 10 minutes of Tuesday's semifinal game.
Trinity (10-10) was coming off the high of Monday's 48-22 win over The Weber School to clinch its first ever trip to the GISA girls basketball tournament. But one night after four players finished in double figures led by Sara Bryan's 12, the Lady Lions managed just four field goals over three quarters against a Heritage lineup that finished with 19 steals.
'We try to make defense a priority,' said Clay on a night where 10 of 12 Lady Hawks who reached the floor contributed points. 'These girls are very humble and they know their roles. I feel like we have two or three players at every position. That helps us play our type of basketball.'
Which on Tuesday meant smothering Trinity with a press that consistently got its hands on the basketball.
Kara Groover had 14 of her game-high 21 points in the first half and joined sister Karlee in each contributing six steals apiece as the Lady Lions struggled at both ends of the floor.
Kara even added a long buzzer-beating 3-pointer that closed the opening quarter with an 11-0 lead after banking the shot off the glass. The freshman also added a team-high six rebounds in the win.
By the time Kate Everett converted a layup to open the second quarter, the Lady Hawks already had six of its 13 points off turnovers.
Heritage, which remained unbeaten against 1-AAA opponents now advances to Thursday's girls championship against No. 2 seed Holy Spirit.
'They're a good team,' Clay said. 'They've got a couple of guards that can match up with us. It'll be a tough one.'
Trinity, which has two opportunities from close range miss the mark in the first period, got on the scoreboard when Ashley Caldwell converted a pass from Bryan with 5:28 left in the opening half.
But the Lady Hawks continued their surge through halftime while outscoring Trinity 16-2.
Maggie Crosby added seven points in the win while Zofia Powell (5), Abbie Farr (4), Everett (3), Amanda Windom (3), Lillie Smith (2) and Ansley Dieckman (2) all had at least one field goal.
Bryan led Trinity with six points and Caldwell added five. On Monday, Bryan, Kaley Grace (11), Sirena Eller (12) and Celine Paul (11) all finished in double-figures.
The Lady Lions will play Loganville in Thursday's girls third-place game which opens the final day of the tournament at Heritage at 4 p.m.