Gatewood girls stall in Elite Eight

Tanner Fuller (No. 24) drives hard down the lane to score for the Gatewood
Lady Gators in their season-ending loss to Pinewood.

PHOTO: Contributed

By Jake McMillian


Trinity-Sharpsburg and Gatewood are leaving their stamp on GISA-AAA as the 2017-18 school year rapidly approaches its conclusion.


Next year, Trinity-Sharpsburg, a school comprised of over 900 students, will compete in the GHSA-A Private league. Meanwhile, Gatewood will be reclassified as a GISA-AA athletics program.


As the Lions and the Gators have battled for supremacy during their swan songs, they have established quite the postseason rivalry. Sharpsburg eliminated Gatewood in both the state football semifinals and the opening round of the boys basketball state tournament.


However, Gatewood finally bested its foe from the Atlanta region when the Lady Gators achieved a 42-41 victory over the Lady Lions during a Feb. 20 matchup in Bellville, Georgia.


Peri Hayes, a star post for the Lady Gators who battled a late-season, high-ankle sprain to compete in her final state tournament, attributed the victory to the elevated play of Gatewood’s guards.


“The first round of state was the best game that we’ve played as a team all season,” Hayes said. “Our guards really stepped up and delivered when our post play wasn’t very productive."


Hayes and fellow senior post Tanner Fuller have been the central offensive catalysts this season for Gatewood. Furthermore, a season-ending injury to point guard Lilly Bridges necessitated a key performance from the Lady Gator bench to beat Sharpsburg. Sophomore Claire Morris delivered that performance, leading the team with a game-high 14 points.


Gatewood’s triumphant night in Bellville did not translate to the second round, however. John Milledge Academy hosted the second round of the state tournament on Feb. 23, and the Lady Gators’ recent woes at the Home of the Trojans continued with a heartbreaking, 40-18 loss to the Pinewood Lady Patriots.


The Lady Patriots, whose team identities were speed, transition offense and lights-out perimeter shooting, dominated the Lady Gators with tenacious defense. Pinewood pestered Gatewood’s offense incessantly, forcing an abundance of turnovers from their opponents’ decimated backcourt and sealing off all passing lanes to Fuller, Hayes and Abbey Kay Moore in the post. Though the contest was evenly matched throughout the first quarter, it simply spiraled out of control in the final 24 minutes of play.


Fuller expressed the utmost respect for the Lady Patriots.


“[Pinewood] was by far one of the most well-rounded teams that we’ve played this season,” Fuller said. “Their combination of speed and shooting ability just overwhelmed us.”


Last Friday’s loss not only ended the Lady Gators’ state title run but also capped off an incredible career for the class of 2018.


“Basketball has been one of the most memorable aspects of my time at Gatewood,” said senior Maggie Doster. “It will certainly be missed.”

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Breaking News: