BASKETBALL: Covenant College next stop for Abby Dalton

Former Gordon Lee Lady Trojan and Georgia Northwestern Lady Bobcat Abby Dalton will continue her college basketball career at Covenant College next season.

After playing basketball nearly her entire life, Abby Dalton figured she was done with her career after this past season once Georgia Northwestern Technical College made the decision to stop offering intercollegiate athletics.

But as it turns out, Dalton isn’t finished quite yet as the former Gordon Lee High School sharpshooter will continue to work on her craft at nearby Covenant College.

“It was kind of a last-minute thing,” Dalton explained. “I was going to go to University of Tennessee, but I still wanted to keep playing. Then Covenant came to me. They were really interested in me and they worked with me on my major. I’ll be playing for minutes, so it’ll be a different situation, but I’m excited to get to keep playing.”

As a senior with the Lady Trojans, Dalton scored nearly 11 points a game as she helped the program to its first Sweet 16 appearance since Gordon Lee won it all in 2013.

She signed with Georgia Northwestern out of high school and immediately found herself in the starting lineup as a freshman, scoring 18 points in her college debut and following up with a 21-point performance in her second game.

Covenant got a good look at Dalton twice last season with the Lady Bobcats as she put on a couple of shooting clinics against the Lady Scots’ junior varsity team.

In an early-December game atop Lookout Mountain, she dropped in 30 points — the most by a Lady Bobcats since the program moved its base to Rossville more than five years earlier — and added 25 more points in the rematch in Rossville some six weeks later.

Dalton also had a 27-point eruption against Oakwood University in the Lady Bobcat Holiday Bash in Rossville on Dec. 7 and ended the season by averaging 13.2 points per game, scoring in double figures 12 times.

“Intensity-wise, it’s going to be at a different level, but I think playing at Georgia Northwestern prepared me well and I’m looking forward to it,” Dalton said.

David Stephenson, who coached Dalton at GNTC, said Covenant’s pick-up was a good one for a number of reasons.

“Number one, she’s a local talent, one that already has 48 hours of college credit with a 4.0 GPA,” he said of the USCAA Academic All-American. “Secondly, she’d live in the gym if you would let her and, third, she’s someone who is a more physically and mentally-tough player now than she was when she came out of high school. She would have definitely struggled her first year at Covenant had she not already had a year of collegiate experience.

“She was already a pretty mentally tough person, but as (last) year went on, she became a lot more physically tough. Covenant is getting a great kid and we wish her nothing but the best and we’re happy to have helped her move on.”

Dalton added that she was thankful for Stephenson and her time learning from him.

“He did such a great job,” she added. “He helped me get set up with Covenant and he has continued to help me and get me prepared.”

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.