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GAC's Cummings celebrates 16th birthday with big win

ATLANTA -- The Greater Atlanta Christian girls had a lot to celebrate Thursday.

Not only was it Brianna Cummings' 16th birthday, but the Spartans headed to her party as the newly crowned champions of the White Division in the JumpOffPlus.com Holiday Invitational.

"We're all going out for hibachi," Cummings said of an evening visit to a Japanese restaurant. "It will be a great birthday party."

Cummings' best present was a 63-41 victory over Memphis East in the division title game at Holy Innocents'. She could share it with her teammates.

"This is a very close team," the sophomore said. "We lost a lot of good players from last season, but our chemistry is really good. I think we can have another great season."

GAC, which went to the Class AA state championship game last season, improved to 9-4 with the victory over Memphis East as Cummings had 20 points and nine rebounds despite a sore right wrist.

"I'd hurt it before and I tweaked it again," said Cummings, who had the wrist wrapped. "It really didn't bother me."

Memphis East (3-3) would attest to that. GAC led 22-2 at the end of the first quarter and the Tennessee school missed 23 shots before making its first basket early in the second quarter.

"They had a good 3-point shooter, so we chased her," GAC coach Cal Boyd said. "She wasn't able to get her shot."

Sydni Means had nine points for the Spartans in the first quarter and the sophomore point guard finished with eight assists and four steals to go with 11 points.

Cosette Mehre, a freshman, hit a pair of 3-pointers en route to 12 points and CiCi Buford had eight rebounds and nine points. Sierra Lawrence, the Spartans' only senior starter, contributed seven points and Jasmine Hill grabbed six rebounds off the bench.

GAC, ranked No. 4 in Class AA, made the title game by handing Alcovy, ranked No. 5 in Class AAAA, its first loss of the season in the semifinals, winning 55-47.

"We played well in that game and it was a big win for us," Boyd. "We're playing very well together."

The Spartans tuned up for the JumpOffPlus.com Holiday Invitational with a trip to Myrtle Beach for the Crescent Bank Holiday Invitational before Christmas.

"We played three state champions," said Boyd, whose team went 1-2 in South Carolina. "I think that really helped us get ready for this tournament and the rest of the season."

"The competition was great there," Cummings said. "We showed we could play with those teams and that made us confident that we could do well in this tournament.

"We're all excited about the rest of the season."

Duluth 48, Hilton Head (S.C.) 32

Joi Jones and Katie Powell each scored 10 points as Duluth (10-3) claimed fifth place in the White Division with a 48-32 victory over Hilton Head, S.C.

The Wildcats let an 11-point lead slip away in the first round against Alcovy, but bounced back to defeat Riverwood in their second game.

The victory over Hilton Head gave Duluth a 2-1 record in the tourney and everyone played in the lopsided game. Tajai Pearson and Keisha Washington each added six points for the Wildcats.