The majority of the championships over the past quarter century have gone to either the Lady Blue Devils or the Lady Wolves. And with the title coming down Thursday to the two programs once again, it was Model coming out ahead.
In a rematch of last year’s final, tournament MVP Megan Kent scored 11 points and provided a strong defensive presence as the Lady Blue Devils skirted past Rome to win 55-48 in the championship game of the 65th annual Rome News-Tribune/Seven Hills Rotary Christmas Tournament at Berry College.
“It’s a rich tradition at our school,” Model girls’ coach Sally Echols said. “The girls are proud of the work that’s gone in before them and to the teams that have won it before. We talk a lot about the tradition of this tournament. We’ve faced Rome year, after year, after year, after year. You don’t win them all, but you appreciate the ones that you do.”
The Lady Blue Devils have won three of the last four championships, with Rome coming out on top last year.
Entering the second half of Thursday’s game with the score tied 21-21, the Lady Blue Devils were able to gain some ground over the Lady Wolves in the third period.
“Offensively we kind of wore them down a little,” Echols said. “The third quarter was very crucial because once we extended the lead we kept just staying on them defensively.”
Model (11-3) broke the tie early in the third quarter on a basket from Montana Moats followed by a layup from Libby Upton to put them up 25-21. Two quick baskets from Rome’s Tamiya Griffin and Amberly Brown knotted the score at 25 apiece before Kent sparked a 9-2 run.
Brown answered with back-to-back scores to make the score 39-33 going into the final quarter, but the Lady Devils would hold onto the lead for the rest of the game.
The Lady Wolves (7-3) cut Model’s lead to 51-48 in the final minutes, but key free throws from Madison Harper and Nia Allen put the game out of reach.
Montana Moats led a 7-3 opening run for the Lady Blue Devils by scoring five straight points. She led all scorers with 21 points, including a trio of 3-pointers, and was named to the all-tournament team.
Madison Harper hit three free throws down the stretch to keep Model up and was also named to the all-tournament team.
Brown finished with 17 points for Rome, while Tarrah Gibson was next with nine for the Lady Wolves. Both players were named to the all-tournament team.