The Gordon Central Lady Warriors embarked on its regular season slate in dominant fashion during Friday’s home-opener, topping the Woodland Lady Wildcats 64-40.
The Lady Warriors (1-0) were sparked by the dynamic offensive prowess that freshman Mercedes Coleman has already been demonstrating in her first season. Her ability to slash to the rim and jump shot accuracy allowed her to compile 19 first-half points against the Lady Wildcats (0-2), and propelled Gordon Central to a commanding 33-15 advantage at the break.
Due to the significant lead, Coleman was subbed out in the fourth to allow for a few players to log valuable early-season minutes, but she still managed to rack up 28 points over the first three quarters.
Gordon Central head coach Matthew Swanson said he was elated with Coleman’s performance, and acknowledged that a special season could be in store for the newcomer.
“We have all quickly figured out that Mercedes is a great player, and she makes everyone around her better,” Swanson said. “I think my favorite thing about her game is that she never keeps her head down when something goes wrong. She is completely unselfish, and she is the type of player that every coach would love to have on their team.”
Gordon Central was additionally bolstered by solid offensive contributions from Leila Culberson, who netted 12 points, and Cheyenne Temple, who chipped in seven points.
It’s obvious that the Lady Warriors had no trouble lighting up the scoreboard on the offensive end of the court, but Swanson credits the defensive intensity that his players brought to the contest as the reason they were able to generate so many easy baskets.
“One of our main goals coming into this season is to play faster, and I think the fact that we were able to turn them over so much allowed us to play at that faster pace,” Swanson said. “When we are able to come up with so many turnovers, we are able to create easy layups with fast breaks on the other end. The difference between this season and last season, at least so far, is that we are making them.”
Despite showing flashes of efficient offense and rugged defense, the Gordon Central boys didn’t fare as well against Woodland in its initial regular season and home contest, falling to the Wildcats 67-41.
The game marked Derrick Broom’s debut as the new head coach of the Warriors (0-1), and even though the result wasn’t exactly what he had hoped for in his first regular season appearance at the helm, he has still been able to observe a solid foundation with this program that he can continue building from.
“I’m honored and excited to be here,” Broom said. “You have a bunch of guys on this team that are aggressive and hungry for a win, and as long as we stay physical on defense and keep attacking the rim, I am confident that we will be able to pick up some of those wins this season.”
As the clash with the Wildcats (1-2) unfolded, it proved to be a much more tightly-contested affair than the final score indicated. The Warriors burst out of the gate with a 7-2 run in the opening minutes and finished the first quarter gridlocked at 13 with Woodland after weathering a brief flurry of offense from the Wildcats.
However, Woodland soon started to pull away in the second quarter and jumped out front by a margin of 10 at the half, cobbling together separate 6-0 and 7-0 scoring stretches while the Gordon Central shooters struggled to get their shots to fall. The Warriors’ defense also had a tough time slowing down the Wildcats on the break.
“I thought we looked great during most of the first half, and we were able to come out and hustle and play with aggression,” Broom said. “We still have to learn that even though we are going through a shooting drought that we still have to get stops on defense.”
The Warriors would try and chip away at the lead in the final two quarters, knocking the lead down to eight points on multiple occasions. However, the Wildcats were able to get to the line in the closing minutes often and ice the game away with an 18-2 run late in the fourth.
Although the team suffered its first loss, it was still an encouraging performance for the Warriors. Leading the charge in the scoring column was guard Gabe Ross, whose ability to slash through the lane allowed him to register 14 points. Quan Curtis contributed 10 points, and Corey Dixon tossed in eight points of his own.
“We have to understand that the game is 32 minutes long,” Broom said. “But we’ve only had a week and a half to pick up everything in practice, and there is still a lot of work to do. They all have great attitudes and are playing hard, and that is all you ask for as a coach. We will get through this and continue to get better.”
The Gordon Central girls and boys are back at home on Saturday to host Gordon Lee in another non-region test.