Gardner can't rescue Broncos in Deep South semis loss

SNELLVILLE --Eventually, Courtney Gardner was going to need help on the offensive end.

But the Brookwood senior never got it, and the Broncos lost 57-43 to Creekview Friday night in the Deep South Classic semifinals. Gardner had a nice all-around game and her scoring kept the hosts close for the better part of the game, but the Grizzlies pulled away to reach today's 6 p.m. final vs. North Oconee. Brookwood will play Model at 3 p.m. in the third-place game.

The Broncos ask a lot of Gardner, a 5-foot-10 wing who has been thrust into a full-time point guard role with a season-ending injury to freshman point guard Lesley Holbrook. Gardner was her team's only consistent offense most of Friday's semifinal, including a strong second quarter that got Brookwood as close as it could get to Creekview's lead.

Down 18-10 early in the second quarter, the Broncos (8-5) got a 3-pointer and another basket from Gardner, followed by a steal and basket from Taiylor Rinehart to get with 18-17 midway through the period.

But Creekview (10-4) scored the next eight points, two on free throws after a technical foul on Bronco coach Scott Terry, and Brookwood never got closer than nine points just once the remainder of the game --when Gardner made a basket midway through the third to get within 36-29.

The Grizzlies answered again with an 11-2 run that put a damper on the Broncos' comeback plans.

Still, Brookwood fought back behind Gardner, who finished with 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists. She hit a pair of free throws and then assisted baskets by Ansley Jones and Rebecca Walker to get within nine points early in the fourth quarter.

Walker added another basket in the fourth, but the offensive help for Gardner came too late. Walker had 11 points, four assists, four blocks and three steals. Shelby Hunter had all six of her points in the third quarter to help keep the Broncos close.

Creekview was led by 14 points from Lauren Johnson and 11 points from Dee Blankenship.