TUNNEL HILL, Ga. -- Having worked with GPS star Chadarryl Clay in the summer months, Northwest Whitfield girls' basketball coach Greg Brown knew the abilities the Auburn signee brought to the court game in and game out.
Yet in the Bruisers' 72-54 victory over his Lady Bruins on Friday, it wasn't just No. 5 that hurt the hosts. It was all five -- the entire GPS starting lineup.
Each of the starters scored in double figures, and the visitors built a double-figure lead in the first quarter and cruised to the interstate victory.
Clay totaled 18 points, seven assists and five steals, harassing Northwest point guards all night. Simone Busby finished with 15 points and three steals, and Jeneh Perry had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Tory Kemp and Brianna Farris each had 10 points.
GPS coach Susan Crownover was pleased not only with the starters but the minutes she received from reserves Finley Bandy and Tayana Fernandez, who both entered when Busby and Perry battled early-game foul trouble defending Northwest post Carley Fetzer. Fetzer had a game-high 25 points.
"Defensively, we weren't great early," Crownover said. "Offensively, they gave us some room and we were able to hit some shots."
Brown said his game plan was to make the athletic Bruisers hit some shots. They did that.
"There's a reason they won state last year," Brown said.
GPS (9-1) made an early 12-2 run predicated on its ability to pressure the Lady Bruins (5-4) into mistakes. Clay had two 3-pointers and 10 points during the spurt, and the Bruisers led by 13 after a quarter.
The lead briefly shrank to nine on a pair of free throws by Brianna Coppock with 4:27 remaining. GPS then reeled off eight consecutive points, ultimately going into halftime up 43-27.
Fetzer was whistled for her third foul with 5:39 to go in the third quarter and had to come out. The Bruisers started going inside, and Perry, Busby and Kemp were able to control the boards for easy putbacks. The lead reached 20 on a putback by Perry and peaked at 22 on a trio of occasions before Crownover called off the dogs in the physical contest.
"This was a good game for us," Brown said. "We needed it leading into Christmas and our region play; we're going to have to be able to compete against teams of this caliber in our region. We hadn't seen this sort of athleticism and talent this season, so I knew what I was getting myself into. They're a really good team."