Excel opened its season by defeating Gordon Central on Nov. 20 on the road, and Tuesday the Gordon County team tried to return the favor but was done in by thievery by the Lady Eagles’ guards, coming up short, 35-30.
The Lady Eagles had worked their way out to about a five-point lead early in the third frame, but the Lady Warriors shook some turnovers loose and made several shots to cut the difference to a single point after three quarters of play, trailing 31-30.
That ended in the final quarter as Excel stole three passes, hit some deuces and turned to a potent inside game to go on a 13-3 tear and earn a 44-33 victory.
“We played a good, scrappy team,” Excel head coach Eric Harris said. “We got up on them and then they cut it to one in the third quarter. I’m proud of the way our girls battled and beat them 13 to 3 in the fourth quarter. I felt like the girls stepped up. Whitney [Harris] did a nice job at the point for us, keeping the tempo where we wanted it. I felt like the girls played hard but under control. We were able to outscore them 13-3 in the final quarter and get the win.”
Gordon Central opened the game with a pair of treys for a 6-0 lead, but a Whitney Harris pass found Lindsey Mauldin unguarded under the backboard and her shot kissed the boards on the way to the net and the scoreboard read 6-2 with about five minutes remaining in the first frame.
Anna Lane Hattaway pulled her team to 6-4 after making a steal, and Brighton McCollum followed suit as the two teams were knotted at 6-all with about four minutes gone from the gymnasium clock.
Hattaway followed with another deuce, and Rylie Boston scored with an assist from Harris to give Excel a 10-6 lead.
Boston added a foul shot and deuce and McCollum closed scoring in the frame with a deuce to put her team up 15-9 to start the second quarter.
Boston opened Excel scoring in the second period with a deuce and Harris added a trey against a deuce and a layup and the Lady Eagles held a 20-13 lead.
The Lady Warriors outscored their hosts 11-7 in the third frame and closed to 31-30.
Gordon Central closed its scoring with a foul shot and Boston answered with a deuce while Harris stole another pass and dribbled across court for a 42-33 lead.
Two foul shots by Harris closed out scoring for the evening. Harris said the Excel guards are getting more active and that benefited the team Tuesday.
“They kept passing it to the wing and back to the point,” he said, “and we kind of read that and talked about it and kinda cheated out a little bit and got a few steals.
“I think Anna Lane Hattaway got one so there were three pretty good steals late by our guards.”
He said the win was a team effort. Harris said Lindsey Mauldin made her presence felt, tallying six points and helping control the board.
“Rylie Boston, I can’t say enough about her as a freshman. She scored 11 points and gets a lot of rebounds. She played great defense.
“Whitney had a good game and scored 11. I felt like she handled the ball well. We had a starter out and she had to step her game up.”
“I felt like Brighton and Anna Lane, all of them contributed. That’s what we have to have from here on out. It’s got to be a team effort.”
Excel improved to 8-8 overall while Gordon Central fell to 4-11.
The Lady Eagles next play Friday when they host Christian Heritage in a region game. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Gordon Central next plays North Murray on Friday in a region game on the road. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
River Ridge 53, Woodland 36
Woodland played tough in spots but it wasn’t enough to overcome the stronger play by River Ridge as the Lady Wildcats fell, 53-36, in girls high school basketball.
Woodland closed with an 18-point final quarter but had two quarters that were not nearly so productive.
“I thought we played well at times,” head coach Kyle Morgan said. “Two quarters we had difficulty scoring and were held to four points in each.
“We need a more consistent effort in our games to improve.”
River Ridge took an 11-4 lead after one quarter of play.
Woodland was more competitive in the second quarter, scoring 10 points to 12 by its opponent.
In the third quarter River Ridge (8-11, 4-3 in region) added a dozen points to its total while Woodland tacked on four points.
Leading scorers were Gabby Bradley with 17 and Makayla Richardson with 10.
Woodland (4-13, 0-5 in region) returns to the hardwood Friday when it visits Cass in a cross county game. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
On Monday it entertains Cartersville. Tipoff is at 5:30 p.m. River Ridge hosts Rome on Friday with a 6 p.m. tipoff.
Ridgeland 53, Cartersville 44
Cartersville stayed close but couldn’t get over the hump and fell to Ridgeland, 53-44, Tuesday.
Head coach Cindy Moore said the Lady Canes had their chances but needed to improve their shooting to earn a victory.
Madison McKinney got a double/double for the Lady Canes, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
The Lady Canes (3-11, 1-6 in region play) next play Pickens on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Cartersville takes on Rome on Saturday in its third road game of the week. Tipoff is at 3 p.m.
It meets Woodland on Monday at Woodland. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Ridgeland (6-8, 3-5 in region) next plays Northwest Whitfield on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.