ROME — The Calhoun Lady Jackets started each half on Friday with dominant defensive spurts, and that allowed them to bounce back in strong fashion to defeat Darlington 57-34 in the third-place game of the Rome News-Tribune Christmas Tournament at Berry College.

Calhoun (3-4) took a 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 25-13 at the half. They took total control of the game in the third quarter as they started the period on a 9-0 run to build a 34-13 lead. They outscored Darlington 19-5 total in the quarter to lead 44-18 going to the fourth, and the Lady Tigers never got any closer than 17 in the final period.

Calhoun coach Kayla Ralston said it was a good way for her team to get back on track after a tough loss in the semifinals the previous night to Rome.

“It was good for us to bounce back today,” said Ralston. “We weren’t competing for the Gold Ball like we wanted to be at the start of the tournament, but we knew that Friday was a new day and we had to leave the loss to Rome on Thursday behind us. We came out and played like I knew we could. I’m proud of the way the girls responded. They did a great job against a good team in Darlington. It was good to finish the tournament strong and on a positive note.”

Anna George led the Lady Jackets with 16 points as she had a big night in the paint. She was named to the All-Tournament Team later on Friday. Railey Greeson, Maggie McBrayer and Ashlyn Brzozoski each scored nine, and Erin Barnes added eight.

Calhoun’s defense was the story of the game as they used an active zone to force Darlington to take tough shots from the outside while also forcing several turnovers that led to easy transition baskets. They held the Lady Tigers to single-digit points in three of the four quarters.

“I think we’re starting to realize that we feed off our intensity on defense,” said Ralston. “If we get after it and give total effort, we can really affect the game on that end of the floor. And that helps us on the other end of the floor by getting us into our fast break and getting some easy shots. We did a great job shutting (Darlington) down. We decided to play a full game hard on defense, and we saw what that allowed us to do.”

Caroline Dingler was the only Darlington player to reach double figures with 19, but 11 of those came in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of reach.

The Lady Jackets will be on the road on Wednesday at Rome at 6 p.m.

“We’ll a few days off for Christmas, and then come back on Wednesday to get another shot at Rome,” said Ralston. “I’m excited to see how we play against them the second time. I think we will come out and compete hard and make it a more competitive game.”

The Lady Jackets defeated Pepperell in opening round of the tournament on Monday to advance to the semifinals against Rome.

Sonoraville’s Alexa Geary was also named to the All-Tournament Team for her performance in the Lady Phoenix’s two games on Monday and Tuesday.

The Lady Phoenix lost a close game to Armuchee 36-33 in the opening round of the tournament before bouncing back with a 56-41 win over Pepperell in a consolation game on Tuesday at Georgia Highlands. It was Sonoraville’s first-ever appearance in the Rome News-Tribune Christmas Tournament.

In earlier girls’ action from the tournament:

Rome girls 67, Calhoun 36

ROME — The physicality and quickness of Rome proved too difficult to match for the Calhoun Lady Jackets, who fell to the Lady Wolves in the semifinal round of the Rome News-Tribune Christmas Tournament at Georgia Highlands.

Rome set the pace early by applying full-court pressure to generate turnovers and converting those turnovers into easy buckets. The Lady Wolves pieced together a 16-2 scoring in the game’s opening minutes.

However, the Lady Jackets (3-4) remained resilient and knocked down a few late baskets in the latter portion of the first period to keep the score at a competitive 20-10.

The Lady Wolves regained control of the game in the second quarter, maintaining its swarming defense and finishing off fast breaks en route to a 12-1 scoring run. Calhoun managed to tack on four points right before the halftime break, but Rome’s lead increased to 35-14 by the time both teams headed into the locker room.

The Lady Jackets enjoyed a better offensive output in the second half, scoring 10 points in the third and netting 12 points in the fourth, but the scoring gap between the two teams had grown too large.

Rome’s scorching shooting propelled the team to a 13-10 scoring stretch throughout the third and a 9-0 run to open the fourth to cement the victory. Calhoun did finish the early-season game strong, compiling 11 points in the game’s final five minutes.

Leading the way for the Lady Jackets was forward Anna George, who racked up 12 points while protecting the rim and snagging numerous rebounds. Calhoun guard Ashlyn Brozozoski added seven points, while Erin Barnes and Railey Greeson each chipped in four points.

The Lady Wolves were bolstered by scoring contributions from up and down its roster, which included a standout performance from guard Re’Tavia Floyd. Floyd spaced the floor and constantly posed a threat from behind the arc, hitting four 3-pointers and finishing with 20 points.

Also filling up the scoresheet for Rome was Tarrah Gibson with 11, Tamiyah Griffin with nine and Jordan Wilder and Taya Gibson with six each.

The loss put Calhoun in the third-place game on Friday against Darlington at Berry.