By Ronald Frazier
Coach Julie Humphries knew her team had its work cut out for it prior to facing the current No. 1 ranked team in AISA girls, Tuscaloosa Academy in the Region One championship contest.
The Knights took the top spot when they beat Glenwood by 13 on Jan. 20 at the Lady Gators’ gym. Adding to that the Lady Gators were without three-year starter Morgan Grant, who has a double figure average in both scoring and rebounding due to illness.
What took place was the Lady Gators’ best team performance as Glenwood trounced Tuscaloosa, 50-27 to win the region title and the No. 1 seed in the first round of the state tournament.
Asked if this was the Lady Gators’ best defensive performance of the year, Coach Humphries could only nod and smile.
The second and third quarters were the difference as Glenwood used a suffocating man-to-man defense to hinder the Lady Knights’ top two scorers, Chloe Johnson and Kelsey Curry.
The Gators also inserted freshman guard Payton Corbett for her first varsity start. She and two other Gators, Quan Holton and JJ Woods, took turns shadowing Curry with extra help when Johnson had the basketball and the Lady Knights offense suffered tremendously.
The Gators lead ballooned to 14 at the half and Glenwood made it a runaway in the third when they outscored Tuscaloosa 14-0 in the third, the only quarter this year that the Lady Knights have failed to score.
“This was easily our best performance of the year,” said Humphries after the game. “Payton stepped up in her first start and everyone put forth extra effort. JJ did nice work on the inside and Quan hit big shots and Maddie (Dykes) and Katie (Suarez) did a good job handling the ball and helping out on defense.”
“Tuscaloosa is a very good team and deserved to be in the championship game,” Humphries added. “I was not aware that our defense had prevented them from scoring in the third until after the game.”
Holton hit for 24 points to lead all scorers in the game and Woods added 14 more and had 13 rebounds unofficially. Holton was named the tournament’s MVP and Woods made the all-tournament team.
Glenwood is now 21-6 on the year while Tuscaloosa is 22-2.
Curry made the all-tournament team and also scored 16 of her team’s 27 points.
The Gators will play the No. 4 seed, Monroe Academy at 10:00 EST at the Montgomery Multiplex on Feb. 1st in the first round of the AISA AAA state tournament.
To get to that championship contest, the Lady Gators faced Edgewood Academy in the region semifinals on Jan. 26. The Wildcats had beaten Springwood the day before.
Glenwood won by a 58-40 score as Grant led the team, with 19 points followed by Holton with 18 and Woods was the third double figure scorer with 11.
“I was pleased with our performance and we shot the ball very well,” said Humphries after the win in the semifinals. “Now we will face a good Tuscaloosa team for the title.”
To get the No. 1 seed for the area title on the girls’ side of the bracket, the Lady Gators had to play two games on the road, one against Springwood on Jan. 22 and the second versus Lee Scott on Jan. 23.
The Lady Gators made quick work of Springwood and handed them a 43-24 loss Jan. 22 with three Lady Gators in double figures. Glenwood outscored Springwood 13-2 in the first period and never trailed. Holton had 15 points to lead Glenwood while Grant had 11 and Woods 10. Amaya Battle had 12 of Springwood’s 24.
That win gave Glenwood a 3-0 area record and the Lady Gators made it 4-0 with a one-point win over Lee Scott, 41-40 as Holton could not be stopped, scoring 30 of Glenwood’s 41 total points.
Lee Scott senior Chauntel Kriel had 18 for the losers who also advanced to the state tournament as the No. 3 seed when they beat Edgewood Academy, 40-33 in the consolation championship on Saturday.
It was a unique score as both Glenwood teams beat Lee Scott by the same margin, three points at home for both boys and girls and one point wins by each on the road.