The Rome High girls team felt the pressure in the second half of its semifinal game against Coosa on Tuesday night. But the Lady Wolves’ own pressure helped them weather the final push.
Early runs for Rome put it on solid footing and prepared them for a scrappy Coosa team in a 62-50 win that advances the Lady Wolves to the championship game of the 65th Annual Rome News-Tribune/Seven Hills Rotary Christmas Tournament.
Rome will face Model on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. at Berry College’s Cage Center for the tournament championship after the Lady Devils pulled off a 50-39 comeback victory over Darlington on Tuesday.
The Lady Wolves led 20-9 after the first period, using a physical approach to take Coosa out of its game. The Lady Eagles tried to match that tempo in the second, but Rome went into the half up 34-18.
“Our defensive intensity is something we pride ourselves on, so I’m proud of how we executed from that perspective,” Rome girls coach Jason Harris said. “But Coosa is an up-and-coming team and they play hard. They were never out of this game.”
Tarrah Gibson led a trio of Lady Wolves scorers in double digits with 14 points. Tamiya Griffin finished with 12, while Amberly Brown had 11.
Hampered with injuries from even before the season started, Rome has been in a state of flux with its team’s lineup, bringing up a group of underclassmen in the last few weeks. The team just recently lost starting point guard Katie Beth Davis to an injury.
“We just have a bunch of kids who play hard really,” Harris said when asked about his players. Freshman point guard Allison Loveman came in on Tuesday evening and put in some quality minutes while also getting three points.
“She came in when we got in foul trouble at the point guard spot and did an exceptional job,” Harris said. “That will help us down the road with our depth.”
Rome (7-2) got off to an 11-3 start with a 3-pointer from Ta’emmica Nation sparking the run. Coosa got within two after the first of four 3’s from Gracie Shumate, but the Lady Wolves rolled off a 9-0 run to end the first period.
The Lady Eagles pushed to challenge Rome in the next quarter, getting as close at 23-18, but the press from the Lady Wolves led them to the basket in the final part of the period and an 11-0 run to close out the first half.
“I wanted to work on some different things tonight as well, so we made some changes at some points,” Harris said. “We always want to prepare whenever we can, and we want to make sure that we’re ready for our region run after the holidays.”
Shumate led Coosa (2-8) with a game-high 16 points, followed by Jordan Roberts with 14. Nay Millsap came on in the fourth period to pull her team closer to the lead and finished with nine points.
Rome will be looking to defend its Christmas Tournament title Thursday after the Lady Wolves won the championship in Harris’s first season at the helm.
“Not being from Rome, I learned just how important it is,” Harris said of what he took away from last year’s tournament. “Of course, we want to fight and compete for that Gold Ball trophy that everyone around here holds in such high regards. It is a big deal.”
Coosa will finish the tournament Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Berry College by taking on Darlington.