CHICKAMAUGA - For the first time in over a month, the Gordon Lee Trojans finally got to play a game on their own home floor in front of their own hometown fans.
And although the scenery might have finally changed for the Navy-and-White, the outcome remained the same.
Gordon Lee made it five wins in a row and eight of their last nine with a solid 68-49 victory over longtime rival Trion in a Region 6-A North hardcourt battle on Tuesday.
"I don't think it's any secret why we are getting better," said head coach Ed Clendenen, whose team now sits at 11-9 overall after a 3-8 start. "They're really practicing hard and showing a lot of enthusiasm. That's what I'm most proud of."
Trion led by six points early, but Gordon Lee (6-2 in 6-A North) rallied to take a one-point lead on a pair of free throws by Colin Wright with less than two seconds remaining in the opening stanza.
However, it wouldn't take long for that slim advantage to morph into something much bigger.
Gordon Lee hit five consecutive three-pointers to start the second quarter, two each by Daniel Brooks and Garret McAllister and one by Cody Wilson. Later, a steal by Brooks led to a breakway lay-up by Wilson to cap a 17-2 run and give the home team a 40-24 halftime lead.
"We reversed the ball and kicked it out for great shots," Clendenen said. "That zone (defense) Trion plays really gives us trouble, but we felt one of the places we could attack it was from the corner. We really stepped up and made some big shots."
The Trojans offense gave way to their defense in the early part of the third quarter and back-to-back three-point-plays by Brooks and Landon O'Neal in the first two minutes of the half would add to the lead.
The senior duo hooked up for a highlight play just over a minute later as Brooks grabbed a defensive rebound, spun, and fired a pass nearly the full length of the court to hit a streaking O'Neal in stride for a lay-up to give the Trojans their biggest lead of the game, 53-26, with 4:49 left in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs would make things a bit uncomfortable for the Trojans over the remainder of the quarter as a 15-0 run put Gordon Lee's blowout plans on hold. But Trion never got any closer than 13 points the rest of the way, and the Trojans iced the game by connecting on 9-of-10 free throws in the final 3:46. They finished the game by shooting a sizzling 91 percent (20-of-22) from the charity stripe.
"That's a very good basketball team we played tonight," Clendenen said. "You can't just let them shoot the ball, but I'm proud of a lot of things we did. I thought we were very methodical on defense, I really liked our execution, and it's hard to beat free throw shooting like that. We've lost a couple of games this year because of poor free throw shooting, so we've been making that a point of emphasis lately in practice. They've really taken it to heart."
Brooks scored 17 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, while O'Neal and McAllister went for 12 points each.
Issac Thomas had 20 points for the Bulldogs, while John Rollins scored 10 off the bench, including eight in the third-quarter run.
Gordon Lee will play a non-region game at Class 2A Coosa on Saturday, looking to avenge a 64-62 loss in Chickamauga back on Dec. 4.