By Dave Gordon
Gilmer High point guard Bailey Charles did all she could to deliver the basketball to teammate Brittany Lowman early in Friday’s game against Dalton, but the junior center went to the bench late in the first quarter with her second foul.
Unfortunately for Dalton, the young floor leader was ready to step up in Lowman’s absence.
The 5-foot-6-inch sophomore broke free for five fast-break layups after the break and created havoc for the Lady Catamounts, sparking the Lady Bobcats to a 59-48 win in consolation bracket play in the Mistletoe Madness Tournament at North Murray’s Mountaineer Gymnasium.
In the day’s other girls game, Calhoun beat previously undefeated Sonoraville 54-41 in a championship bracket semifinal to earn a place in today’s 6:30 p.m. title game against North Murray.
In Friday’s boys pool play games, Gilmer beat Sonoraville 61-24 and Calhoun beat Christian Heritage 70-45. Gilmer will take on North Murray in today’s 8 p.m. boys championship game.
Against Dalton (9-4), the backcourt for the Lady Bobcats (4-4) was able to get out into the open floor and get to the free-throw line frequently, frustrating both Dalton and coach Jeff McKinney, whose team lost three games in a row for the first time since the 2007-08 season, according to results at Ga.PrepCountry.com.
“We’re not executing and not playing very good defense. When you start putting that together, it results in losses,” he said. “We’re going to have to go back to the board and get better. We just have to learn to help and do a better job on help defense. Any time the ball gets down low and they start penetrating, or when it’s a one-on-one situation, it’s either going to be a foul or a bucket. We weren’t doing a good job of helping out.”
The Lady Catamounts led 13-11 early in the second quarter after an offensive rebound and layup by Maddie Howell, who finished with a game-best 25 points but was Dalton’s only player who scored in double figures for the second straight game.
But Dalton’s time on top of the scoreboard was short-lived. Gilmer went on a 14-4 run to end the half, and the Lady Bobcats’ lead ballooned to 15 points early in the fourth quarter.
Charles, who finished with 19 points, paced the backcourt and was instrumental in achieving the Lady Bobcats’ 42-32 halftime lead. Lowman added 15, with 11 of those points scored in the second half after shaking off the early foul trouble.
“She’s pretty solid,” Gilmer coach Herb Horton said of Charles. “She started for us last year on the wing and then we moved her over to point this year. She’s a solid player and handles it well.”
Horton pointed to crashing the boards and taking it up the floor quickly in the second half to avoid letting Dalton’s defense set up.
“I thought when we rebounded that was an advantage, and that was a key to the fast break,” he said. “I thought we made some good decisions early. We didn’t make very good decisions late in the game because of Dalton’s scrambling and putting pressure on us. Overall, it was a pretty good effort.”
Brooke Thomas added eight points for Dalton, which will start today’s action at the tournament by taking on Coahulla Creek in the seventh-place game at 11 a.m.
In other girls games today, Gilmer faces Christian Heritage for fifth place at 12:30 p.m. and Polk County (Tenn.) plays Sonoraville for third place at 3:30.
In other boys games today, Sonoraville and Christian Heritage will compete for fifth place at 2 and Polk County takes on Calhoun at 5.
• Calhoun boys 70, Christian Heritage 45: The Yellow Jackets got 19 points from Grayson Arnold to lead all scorers and drop Christian Heritage to .500.
Michael McKinney scored 11 points to lead the Lions (3-3), while Cameron Locke added eight.
• Southeast Whitfield girls 72, Ringgold 30: Southeast sophomore guard Crickett Wyatt continued her breakout season, scoring a game-high 17 points as the Lady Raiders (7-5) rolled at home against winless Ringgold.
Megan Collins and Samantha Gravitt each added 10 points — Collins also added six rebounds — and Angelica Herrera tallied eight points.
• Southeast did not report results from Friday’s scheduled varsity boys basketball game against visiting Ringgold.
• Northwest Whitfield JV boys 47, Elite Scholars Academy 31: The Bruins (7-1) rolled at home against their visitors from Jonesboro to reach the championship game of their own junior varsity tournament.
Ty Pendley had 12 points to lead Northwest in Friday’s win, while Jamon Horne and Clay Phillips each added 10.
• Northwest JV girls 63, Southeast 20: Lexi Storey led the way with 20 points as the Lady Bruins (7-0) made it 2-for-2 for the school in title game berths at Northwest’s JV tournament.
Madelyn Logan had a strong all-around game for the Lady Bruins, finishing with 13 points, eight steals, five rebounds and five assists. The Lady Raiders’ Isabel Salinas scored nine points.
• Christian Heritage JV boys 40, Morris Innovative 24: Tyler Tipton’s 15-point effort paced the Lions (7-3) to victory at Northwest’s tournament.