GPS coach Susan Crownover knows she can't go into every game this basketball season relying solely on the scoring of seniors Chadarryl Clay and Simone Busby. Yet the two showed Friday afternoon that they were fully capable of carrying the load when needed.
The two combined for 45 points as the Bruisers advanced to the semifinals of the Mountain View Inn Thanksgiving Tournament with a 71-44 victory over Class AAA school Oak Ridge at Bradley Central.
GPS (2-1) will face Wilson Central (2-0), a 68-52 victor over McMinn County, this afternoon at 4:30. Oak Ridge will face McMinn in a consolation matchup at 1. The championship game will be played Sunday afternoon.
Clay scored 30 points and Busby had 15, and they equaled the Lady Wildcats' first-quarter total as GPS built a 17-11 lead. Clay had 15 of GPS's 23 second-quarter points, and her 21 in the first half were six more than the entire Oak Ridge team.
"We improved as the game went along, but I think we were intimidated from the start," Oak Ridge coach Karra Jackson said. "I told our girls that [the Bruisers] were putting on a show in the first half. We had no desire to keep No. 5 [Clay] in front of us."
Crownover said that although Clay and Busby are the Bruisers' go-to players, the original plan was to spread the ball out a little more.
"You always want to get more players into double figures. That makes you harder to guard," Crownover said. "We tried to get other players involved but had problems scoring. We ran some stuff in the first half to get those two into space and give them opportunities to score, and they took ownership of the team."
The teams played a little more evenly in the second half. Oak Ridge was able to get the ball out and run, taking advantage of its superior athletes, but Crownover was able to work some things offensively and get the ball inside to Busby and Jeneh Perry, who finished with seven points.
"I felt we wanted the game a little more in the second half," Jackson said. "They beat us mentally more than physically in the first half."
Said Crownover: "I thought that overall we played a little better. Our defensive intensity was better, but we still have to improve on our defensive rebounding."
Kendra Holmes led Oak Ridge with 20 points, while Shabre' Booker added 10.