The Harris and Farris show played to rave reviews Tuesday at GPS. Had it been a play, senior Brianna Farris would've been the star in act one. Freshman Akia Harris stepped into the spotlight after intermission.
By the end, the Bruisers were 49-38 victors in the Division II-AA East/Middle Region basketball game.
"We've been so close in the last six or seven games we've lost," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "We only had one get out of hand. The rest of them, a play here or a rebound there could've made a difference. Finally, we made those plays tonight."
The playmaking began with two 3-point field goals by Farris. She then capped her 11-point first quarter with a three-point play with 4.4 seconds showing, making it 13-6.
Ten was the Bruisers' biggest lead in the first half. The largest lead was 43-27 after Harris fed Farris for a layup on a fastbreak with 6:04 to play.
Harris made the last four baskets for GPS (11-11, 3-4) in the third quarter -- the first was one of her two 3s in the game -- and their first two of the fourth. She finished with 21 points and Farris, who was 5-for-5 from the free-throw line, added 19.
"Brianna was hot in the first quarter," Crownover said. "She made a bunch of big buckets. Then Akia kind of took things over the second half. She knows exactly what she's supposed to do. She was able to take it to the basket several times. When it wasn't there, she kicked it to somebody else. She had some big shots and I bet she had a lot of assists, too."
Kaleigh Clemons led Baylor with 17 points but didn't get her first points until making a 3-pointer 2:44 before halftime. Crownover said her team's defense on Clemons, led by Farris with help from others, including her daughter and reserve guard Kelby Crownover, was much better at limiting her drives to the basket than when Baylor won 46-45 on Jan. 24 in the first meeting. And no other Lady Raider had more than seven points Tuesday.
"Give GPS a lot of credit," Baylor coach John Gibson said. "I thought they played together. They were very patient offensively. They outlasted us. They were more patient offensively than we were defensively. It was the opposite on the other end. We seemed to make one or two passes and then take a shot. That isn't going to work."
The foul situation in the second half favored Baylor (11-12, 2-4) in one way: The Lady Raiders were in the double bonus when Clemons went to the free-throw line with 3:56 to go. Yet they had been called for only two fouls at the time and weren't able to force GPS to the line for its first one-and-one until 1:03 remained, which hampered any comeback effort.
"If we had really played defense earlier, that would've been different," Gibson said of having so few fouls late. "It shouldn't be that way with two minutes to go in the ballgame."
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.