CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. -- There may have been a few nervous folks inside the Gordon Lee High School gym Friday night with eight seconds to play in a tied Class A first-round playoff game.
Katelyn Lee wasn't among them. The 6-foot-4 sophomore post stepped to the foul line with the score tied at 50 against eighth-ranked Pace Academy and -- putting her last trip to the charity stripe out of her mind -- calmly sank two free throws. They turned out to be the deciding points in a 52-50 Gordon Lee win.
"Every time I go to the free-throw line I tell myself I'm going to make it," said Lee, the birthday girl who had missed the rim on two earlier free throws. "Luckily I did. I tend to drift a bit when I shoot them, so I scooted over a little bit and they went right in. This is definitely a great birthday present to win this game."
Gordon Lee will play top-ranked Southwest Atlanta Christian in the second round.
Lee might have been the hero, but senior forward Lil Bradbury was the key for the 26-3 Lady Trojans. The one-time state high-jump champion used her skills to good use, securing 21 rebounds and scoring a team-high 17 points, most on putbacks. She had eight first-period points, all on putbacks, as Gordon Lee built a 16-10 lead after one.
The lead stood at eight at halftime, but Pace's one-two punch of Vanderbilt signee Morgan Batey and Haley Zwecker led a surge to tie the score at 36 with two minutes to go in the third on a Batey drive. Two Batey free throws with 5:39 left in the game gave the Lady Vikings their first lead of the game at 44-42.
Three minutes later, holding a 48-46 lead, Gordon Lee leading scorer and primary ball-handler Kassidy Blevins picked up her fifth foul while diving for a loose ball. The Lady Vikings smelled blood.
"We had to hold on down the stretch without Kassidy," Lady Trojans coach Lester Galyon said. "Things were looking pretty bleak, but the girls managed to pull it out."
A Bradbury layup off a pass from Lexis Robertson gave Gordon Lee a three-point lead with 1:25 to play, but Zwecker tied it with 38 seconds to go with a 3-pointer. She then made a clean steal and was fouled but badly missed two free throws. Batey rebounded the second miss, but her shot was altered by Lee, who grabbed the rebound and was fouled to set up the go-ahead free throws.
Zwecker got a good look after racing down the court in the waning seconds, but her 15-foot jumper hit off the rim as the Gordon Lee side erupted.
"If somebody had told me that a great-shooting guard like that would miss two free throws and we have a young lady who has struggled at times and knocks them all down ... wow, what a finish," Galyon said.
Blevins scored 12 points and Lee had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Trojans. Zwecker topped Pace (21-7) with 22 points, with Batey adding 17 plus nine rebounds and three blocked shots.