GORDON LEE 57, TOWNS COUNTY 49
Gordon Lee 17 9 10 21 -- 57
Towns County 13 9 10 14 -- 49
Gordon Lee (57) -- Chambers 3, Kassidy Blevins 25, Bohannon 2, Barger 7, Kimbrell 9, Hartline, Holland, Clayton, Weldon, Katelyn Lee 11, M. Lee.
Towns County (49) -- Stephanie Patton 12, Eryn Cochran 14, Sutton 2, Blythe 8, Albach 2, Lindemuth, Kellsie Cowart 11, Anderson.
3-point goals: Gordon Lee 6 (Blevins 2, Kimbrell 2, Chambers, Barger); Towns none. Other highlights: K. Lee 15 r, 4 b; Kalei Kimbrell 13 r; Blevins 7 s (GL); Cowart 8 r; Cochran 7 r, 5 s (TC). Records: Gordon Lee 24-7; Towns County 26-5.
FORT VALLEY, Ga. — It was likely the one thing Lester Galyon feared most as his basketball team took its biggest stage ever Friday in the GHSA Class A public school girls' semifinal at Fort Valley State University.
Star guard Kassidy Blevins played just three minutes of the opening half against Towns County after picking up two quick fouls. Instead of falling apart, however, Gordon Lee kept its composure and earned its first title-game appearance with a 57-49 win.
Blevins scored 16 of her game-high 25 points in the final quarter.
"That was a tough way to start, but the girls stayed together," said Galyon, whose team nevertheless led 17-13 after one and 26-22 at the half. "Earlier in the year I don't know if we handle it as well, but this team believes in itself and each other."
Gordon Lee (24-7) will play Randolph Clay next Thursday at the Macon Centreplex for the public school championship. Randolph Clay beat Wilkinson County 57-34 in the second semifinal.
In Blevins' absence early Friday, senior Kalei Kimbrell hit two 3-pointers and post Katelyn Lee had eight first-half points in a game that featured physical play on both ends of the court. Gordon Lee had 12 fouls and 13 turnovers in the opening half, but with disaster averted, its star was ready to go after halftime.
"It was frustrating," said Blevins, who had just two points before intermission. "A big part of it was I was too excited and got carried away. My teammates picked up their game big-time and got us through the first half, and that was huge. I was so impressed with how they held their own."
The Lady Trojans stretched their lead to eight, 36-28, on a Blevins drive with 3:07 remaining in the third period, but the Lady Indians (26-5) scored the final six points of the quarter to pull within two. That's when Blevins turned it on and turned out Towns' lights.
She began the final period with a driving layup, hit a 3-pointer and ended a personal eight-point run with a steal and full-court drive for another layup, again pushing the lead to eight. A Kimbrell putback -- one of 13 rebounds for the senior -- and another Blevins drive made it a 10-point game with 4:37 to play.
The Lady Trojans, who turned the ball over only twice in the final period, never led by fewer than six the rest of the way.
"The big thing tonight was we out-rebounded them," Galyon said. "We don't always do a good job on the boards, and though we gave up some offensive rebounds, we got some, too. For a while there our second and third shots carried us. Kalei Kimbrell really made a difference on the boards. She controlled the lane area, with Katelyn on one side and her on the other."
Lee, the 6-foot-4 junior post, led led in rebounds with 15 and added 11 points and four blocked shots, and said more of the same will be needed Thursday.
"We struggle some rebounding, and it's always a key for us," she said. "But today we did great and we'll have to do it again. This is so special. All these girls are my best friends, and to get to do something very few teams get to experience is amazing. We've talked about this moment since we were little. To know that we're one of the best teams in the state of Georgia is amazing."
Eryn Cochran topped Towns County with 14 points and five steals, while Stephanie Patton added 12 points and Kellsie Cowart had 11.
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...