CALHOUN — Sierra Lawrence didn’t start Tuesday for GAC.
But an injury forced her into a second-half appearance and she made the most of it.
The Michigan-bound softball player came up with one of the Spartans many second-half steals and her layup set the pace for GAC in a second-half explosion and a 56-35 win over Calhoun in the second round of the Class AA playoffs.
“That set the tone,” GAC coach Cal Boyd said of the steal. “(Lawrence) was a nice boost. She gave us a nice lift.”
Lawrence ended the game with 10 points. Kristina Nelson led the Spartans down low with 15 points and Chandler Alverson scored 12.
But it was things like Lawrence’s steal that tell the story of GAC’s win. The Spartans forced 15 second-half turnovers, starting the third quarter in a full-court, man-to-man press.
“We sort of kept the pressure on,” Boyd said. “Our emphasis from the very beginning was to play good, solid defense.”
GAC only allowed 19 first-half points, but the game remained close at the half because the Spartans struggled to make baskets. But the turnovers led to easy layups and they didn’t miss those.
“It really was a team effort,” Boyd said, singling out the defensive leadership of the senior Alverson. “(Alverson) was the girl that, really for most of the season, has been the glue for our team.”
GAC outscored Calhoun 26-9 in the third quarter and allowed just seven points in the fourth as they drained the clock with every possession.
“We are very pleased,” Boyd said.
The win over a 26-win Calhoun team sets up a quarterfinals matchup against unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Kendrick next week in Dalton. It’s another talented opponent for a GAC team that has played tough teams all season.
“Those types of games help prepare us for a tough game like tonight,” Boyd said before turning his attention to Kendrick. “The girls have seen a lot of different styles of play. Because of that we feel like we’ll be prepared for this (coming) game. We’ll definitely have our hands full.”