There could be several factors why visiting Chattanooga Christian lost 40-29 to GPS in basketball Tuesday. Home-court advantage was not one of them, because the game took place at East Hamilton.
Shortly before the season started, East Hamilton girls' coach Derek Morris figured out that for his Lady Hurricanes to remain in the tournaments they've pledged to, he would need to drop two regular-season games to meet the TSSAA's limit.
GPS had space on its schedule and was contacted about two weeks ago and agreed to take the game. CCS played East Hamilton's boys afterward.
"We had parents that just needed to go one place," Lady Chargers coach Laura Cottrell said of the decision to keep the girls' game at East Hamilton.
East Hamilton's varsity girls will not play Friday at Hamilton Heights. The two junior varsity games will precede the varsity boys' game at 7:30.
Things weren't bad in the beginning for CCS, which overcame a 4-0 deficit with six consecutive points, prompting a GPS timeout less than two and a half minutes into the game.
"We weren't guarding anybody," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "We were getting beat back every trip. It was ridiculous."
Crownover ended up scrapping the Bruisers' press and man-to-man defenses in favor of a half-court zone starting about midway through the second quarter. That combined with the performance by freshman point guard Akia Harris began to sway things the Bruisers' way in the second half.
"Akia did a great job herself just beating their press, getting her shot and dishing the ball to people who needed it," Crownover said. "We want her to have it 95 percent of the time if we can help it."
GPS (4-1) expanded a two-point halftime lead to 36-19 halfway through the fourth quarter. The Lady Chargers then took a timeout with 3:51 to play after Joanna Smith's baseline runner, which started a 10-2 run that got the deficit to single digits with 1:59 to play, but that's as close as they got.
"We got tired," Cottrell said. "We've got 10 players we can run in and out. I've got to do a better job with our rotation.
"The third quarter really got us. We didn't get to the 30-point mark, which is very unusual for this team. We didn't shoot the ball well. We're a better scoring team than we showed tonight."
Crownover acknowledged some early shooting woes by her team, but Harris kept them in it then by making three of the Bruisers' first four goals and assisting on the other. She led all scorers with 19 points.
Clara Dirkse topped CCS (2-2) with nine points.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.