CALHOUN, Ga. - This was one time familiarity with an opponent was a detriment.
Calhoun coach Jerry Pruett's team knew what to expect in Greater Atlanta Christian - a relentless, talented, deep basketball team that is an annual state-title contender. Unfortunately for the Lady Yellow Jackets, a blowout playoff loss last season was still on their minds Tuesday night when GAC visited them for a second-round Class AA game.
Calhoun trailed by just seven at the half, but the Lady Spartans played a flawless third period and pulled away for a 56-35 win. The Lady Jackets, the Region 7-AA champions, ended their season at 26-4.
"We weren't ready to play in the second half," Pruett said. "We had a played a pretty solid defensive game in the first half, but their first two possessions of the second half they get a layup, then we telegraph a pass and they get another layup. From that point we just seemed to self-destruct and we never recovered.
"A big part of it was, I think, that we played them last year and a similar thing happened. We played with them for a while and all of a sudden the bottom fell out. I think the kids felt the same way tonight."
A minor adjustment by GAC coach Cal Boyd led to a third-period offensive clinic. The Lady Spartans started spreading out in their half-court sets, with guards Sydni Means, Shannon Cranshaw and Siera Lawrence penetrating and setting up teammates for easy baskets.
An 8-4 run to start the second half was quickly followed by a 11-0 spurt in under two minutes that effectively put the game on ice. Six-foot sophomore Kristina Adams began asserting herself inside, and when Calhoun began sagging in on her, she hit Means and Chandler Alverson for back-to-back 3-pointers. Adams ended the big run with a conventional three-point play and a 45-23 lead.
GAC closed out the period with a 7-3 run, leading to a fourth period in which Boyd had his team play keepaway to protect the big lead.
"We knew coming in that Calhoun had a talented team and this would be a tough place to play," Boyd said. "But we've played some really great teams this season, including several nationally ranked teams, so we were prepared. We executed very well in the third period, and I was very pleased with the defense."
Nelson led three Lady Spartans (23-7) in double figures with 15 points, with Alverson adding 12 and Lawrence 10. Sophomore post Taylor Palmer topped Calhoun, which will return all its players next season, with 18 points and seven rebounds.
GHSA Class AA second round
GREATER ATLANTA CHRISTIAN 56, CALHOUN 35
GAC 11 15 26 4 - 56
Calhoun 9 10 9 7 - 35
Greater Atlanta Christian (56) - Means 3, Cranshaw 6, Cummings 6, Chandler Alverson 11, Kristina Nelson 15, Siera Lawrence 10, Young 2, Buford 2, Hill, Talley, Thomas, Perrymond, Mitchell.
Calhoun (35) - M. Palmer 2, Roe, M. Walraven, B. Walraven 2, Phillips, Craig 4, Taylor Palmer 18, Pruett 3, Stewart, Curtis 1, Thompson 3, McDaniel 2.
3-point goals: GAC 3 (Alverson 2, Means); Calhoun none. Other highlights: Lawrence 4 s; Nelson 3 b (GAC); T. Palmer 7 r, 3 s (C). Records: GAC 23-7; Calhoun 26-4.
Georgia Class A second round
GORDON LEE 64, WILKINSON COUNTY 39
Gordon Lee 18 15 25 6 - 64
Wilkinson 12 8 9 10 - 39
Gordon Lee (64) - Lesslie Bohannon 22, Lil Bradbury 15, Holli Brooks 10, Blevins 7, Lee 4, O'Neal 3, Barger 3, Quinn, Holcomb, Robertson, A. Bohannon, Hartline, Kimbrell, Chambers, Clayton.
Wilkinson County (39) - Tinnetta Smith 18, Ware 7, Veal 6, Brown 2, West 2, Geter 2, A. Smith 2, Jones, Brewington.
3-point goals: Gordon Lee 10 (L. Bohannon 6, Brooks 2, Blevins, Barger); Wilkinson 4 (Veal 2, T. Smith, Ware). Records: Gordon Lee 24-6; Wilkinson 16-11.