Gordon Central's Mercedes Coleman

Gordon Central’s Mercedes Coleman (23) looks to pass over multiple Armuchee defrenders during Tuesday’s game. (Tim Godbee, For the Calhoun Times)

Tim Godbee, Photographer

Armuchee girls 63, Gordon Central 54

ROME — The Lady Warriors fought back multiple times to get close, but every time it seemed that Armuchee got a crucial rebound, turnover or bucket when needed to extend the lead back out and eventually pulled away for a region victory on their home court.

Gordon Central (3-2, 0-1) trailed 35-30 at the half and fell behind by double figures multiple times in the third quarter, including Armuchee (5-2, 2-0) leading 49-39 late in the quarter. But the Lady Warriors battled back to within six at 49-43 going into the fourth and cut it to 51-48 early in the final period before Armuchee put together a game-clinching 7-0 run and hold on from there.

“That’s what I like about this team is they play hard and never quit,” said Gordon Central coach Matt Swanson of his team’s effort. “We played just as hard tonight, but the difference to me was rebounding. That was what decided the game. Armuchee was able to get big offensive rebounds and put-backs when they needed to.”

The Lady Indians got off to a fast start in the game leading 7-0 early in the first quarter and 13-2 as well. Gordon Central got several points from Mercedes Coleman, however, to get back in the game and trailed 15-11 at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Warriors continued to be led by Coleman in the second quarter and rallied to tie the game twice in the period at 22-22 and 29-29 before trailing by five at the break.

Coleman, a freshman, had a game-high 26 points as she used her ability to get down the floor quickly and get to the basket to keep her team in the game. Her biggest quarter came in the second when she scored nine.

“That’s what she does,” said Swanson. “She sees the floor well, and for as much as she scores, she’s very unselfish. She’s a really good player. We’re going to have to work on seeing junk defenses from our opponents that will try to take her away because that is what we’re going to see all year probably. We need some other people to step up around her too, and we got that some tonight. Lelia (Culberson) made some big shots, and Olivia played well, especially defensively against Armuchee’s top player.”

Culberson added nine points in the game, including a pair of 3s, and Chloe Ferguson scored seven.

Brandy Ann Wacker was the leading scorer for Armuchee with 19 points. Livia Skinner added 14, and Addie Grace Trejo scored 10.

Swanson said a loss certainly wasn’t what his team wanted in the region opener, but this is just the start of a long road ahead to try to reach their goal.

“Our goal is to be in that top four and get a state playoff berth,” said Swanson. “You want to give yourself the best seed possible in the region tournament to try to get there. The biggest things we need to work on is rebounding better and making shots. And we need other people to step up around Mercedes so other teams can’t focus all their attention on her. But I believe in this team, and they will work hard to get better and reach our goals.”

The Lady Warriors are home on Friday to host Model in another region contest at 7 p.m.