The past couple of seasons a third-place finish in the Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament would have been a letdown for the GPS Bruisers, but coach Susan Crownover was all smiles after they finished third Saturday with a 59-35 win over Chattanooga Christian.
The Bruisers (8-4), with one starter back from back-to-back state-title teams, got 21 points from their most experienced player, Brianna Farris, in finishing 2-1 in the tournament. The convincing win, which also included 11 points from Chappel Sharrock, left Crownover optimistic about the rest of the season.
"We are in a very big learning curve with this team, and we're very up and down," the veteran coach said. "We're getting better with more playing time, which is what this team needs. The younger players are playing both varsity and JV, which is really helping them because we're running a lot of different things. Hopefully by the end of the year we'll be in a more comfortable position knowing our roles.
"Right now I'm thrilled to be 8-4. We've beaten some good teams and we've been beaten by some good teams. That's just us right now."
GPS, behind Farris and a swarming defense, built a 19-4 lead after one period and rolled to its second win over CCS (6-8) this year.
Alison Hughes topped the Lady Chargers with 12 points.
• East Hamilton 53, Silverdale Baptist 36: In the fifth-place game, the Lady Hurricanes (7-6) outscored the Lady Seahawks (8-5) 30-15 in the second and third periods to overcome a slow start. Post Juliette Harp led the winners with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Lexi Zackery added eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Mariah Massengill was the only Silverdale player in double figures with 20 points.
• Brainerd 50, Arts & Sciences 42: In the seventh-place game, the Lady Panthers (5-7) broke open a tie game after three periods behind Jamee Ward and Anisha Douglas, who led them with 20 and 15 points. Keturah Billen led CSAS (4-7) with 15.