NORCROSS — It may not have been pretty, but in the end Greater Atlanta Christian accomplished what it set out to do — advance to the second round of the Class AA girls state basketball tournament, beating Union County 60-42.
The Spartans held a 21-point lead two minutes into the fourth quarter, but the Panthers went on a 15-4 run over the next 3:38 to close the gap to within 10 points. However, GAC (22-7) held on, knocking down its free throws late to secure the win.
“When it comes to the playoffs, you’re just trying to find a way to win,” said GAC head coach Cal Boyd. “We know we can play better, but we’ll take the win.”
The Spartans were able to jump out to an early first-quarter lead, thanks to six points by Sierra Lawrence. In the second quarter, GAC took a double-digit lead on the back of Brianna Cummings, who finished the game with 18 points.
By halftime, GAC held a 32-19 lead.
Neither team was able to do much in the third quarter as both hunkered down on defense, not allowing much from either offense.
The fourth quarter was a different story.
After a Lawrence steal and lay-up put the Spartans up 45-24, Union County went on its run to pull within 10.
“You have to give credit to Union County,” Boyd said. “They didn’t give up. We were in a good position and let it get away from us. I will give our team credit, we hit our free throws at the end of the game when they started fouling us.”
Lawrence (11 points) and Chandler Alverson (10) joined Cummings in double figures, while the team as a whole caused 19 turnovers.
The Spartans will now face the winner of Calhoun and Spencer in Tuesday’s second round.