Christmas was good to the GPS basketball Bruisers, but the morning after didn't start the way they intended.
Playing the opening game of the Best of Preps Tournament at Chattanooga State on Thursday, the Bruisers were, in their young star's opinion, still trying to shake the holiday cheer early against East Hamilton. Sophomore point guard Akia Harris helped take care of that, scoring 16 of her game-high 20 points in the final three quarters to lead GPS to a comfortable 54-39 win.
GPS (11-1) will face Brainerd in a semifinal today at 4 p.m. East Hamilton (1-10) will play Lookout Valley this morning at 10 in the consolation round.
"We had to get warmed up after Christmas and all the food and stuff," Harris said with a laugh. "We hadn't run in a while, so it was tough at first. We weren't focused in the first half at all, so once we did we were OK."
The Lady Hurricanes used back-to-back 3-pointers from Maggie Woods and Taylor Giles to pull within 14-13 three minutes into the second period. GPS coach Jennifer Williams, following a turnover 10 seconds later, called time out to try to regain her team's focus. It apparently worked as a Rachel Hudson putback sparked a 10-0 run as the Bruisers earned a 24-15 halftime lead.
"We started shooting inside more and finding different ways to score, because our outside shot wasn't working," Williams said of the second-quarter turnaround. "Rachel Hudson came in and gave us some good rebounds and putbacks, and it seemed to jumpstart everybody else. I was proud of her effort."
That momentum carried over to the third period when GPS, led by Harris' eight points, opened the half with a 21-4 run. Harris added eight rebounds and six steals, while Hudson had 10 rebounds and Kara Ware scored 10 points for the winners, while Rhyne Howland topped East Hamilton with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or 423-757-6296.