ROME — The Gordon Central Lady Warriors battled the Rockmart Lady Yellow Jackets on Friday night in the semifinals of the Region 7-AA Tournament semifinals at Model High School in Rome. Freshman phenom Mercedes Coleman of Gordon Central put up a valiant effort, but the Lady Warriors were outmatched by Rockmart and lost 64-51.
The freshman All-Region player Coleman put up a game-high 33 points for her team. Gordon Central Coach Matt Swanson said he was highly pleased with the performance of Coleman.
“She played great,” said Swanson. “She always plays great. She plays with great effort.”
The first quarter was a low-scoring period (6-5 in favor of the Lady Jackets) as both teams struggled to find their rhythm, and both defenses saw success. Coleman put up all five of the Warrior baskets while Keyarah Berry led Rockmart with four of her team-leading 24 points on the night.
The second quarter saw both teams settle in, and it saw more back-and-forth action. Rockmart spread the ball around well, as six different Lady Jackets saw their name on the scoresheet in the period. Berry again led her team with six points, while Coleman of Gordon Central added 11 to cut Rockmart’s lead to 25-21 at the half.
The third quarter saw the Lady Yellow Jackets assert their will against Gordon Central as the period was a major factor in deciding the game’s outcome. Rockmart had a lot of offensive success in the quarter, and Berry again led Rockmart with four points. The major reason the Lady Jackets had such a dominant quarter was the fact that their defense stepped up and held Coleman to zero points.
Rockmart entered the final quarter of the game with a 40-27 lead and started out the quarter hot and increased the lead to 21. However, Coleman had something to say about that as she took over the final period and scored 17 points for the Lady Warriors. However, it was not enough as Berry (eight points) and a host of other Lady Jackets, including Mollie Little (six), Cambree Stanley (four) and De-siree Williamson (four) put points on the board. Rockmart went on to win 64-51 and advance to the region tournament finals where they faced Model on Saturday night.
Besides the big night for Coleman, seven other Gordon Central players scored points in the game. Tayla Gunn was added five points.
The Lady Warriors’ coach Swanson seemed not too fazed by the loss as he is looking forward.
“Rockmart just beat us,” said Swanson. “They beat us three times this year. They’re just better than we are. I’m proud of the girls’ effort. They never quit. We’re excited about playing Pepperell tomorrow and whoever we draw in the state (tournament),” said Swanson.
With the loss, the Lady Warriors fell into the third-place game on Saturday against Pepperell.
In the third-place game on Saturday against the Lady Dragons:
Gordon Central girls 45, Pepperell 30
The Lady Warriors built a solid lead early on and continued to add to it through the rest of the game in a victory in the Region 7-AA Tournament third-place game on Saturday.
Gordon Central (10-14) jumped out to a 10-3 lead after one quarter and led 20-11 at the half. They maintained a 10-point lead at 29-19 at the end of the third quarter and then put the game away by outscoring Pepperell 16-11 in the final period.
Cara Crump was the leading scorer for the Lady Warriors as she had a game-high 22 points, including four 3-pointers. Mercedes Coleman added 15. No Pepperell player reached double figures as Grace Hufford was their leading scorer with nine.
Gordon Central will make their first-ever state tournament appearance when they visit Elbert County in the Class AA First Round on Saturday at 4 p.m.