GAC girls fall to SACA in overtime

NORCROSS -- Cal Boyd felt that his Greater Atlanta Christian girls needed a late-season challenge to get them fully battle-tested for upcoming tournament play.

"This was intentional," the coach said of the Spartans' recent killer schedule. "We needed a stretch like this."

Playing its fourth game in five days, GAC forced visiting Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy to overtime Tuesday night before the top-ranked team in Class A held on for a 57-54 victory.

The loss was the third straight for the Class AA Spartans (15-5), but Boyd wasn't concerned about that.

"I never worry about records. They don't count once you get to the playoffs," Boyd said. "Now it's all about how we respond."

The Spartans aren't likely to face a tougher stretch come the postseason than they just went through.

After a Region 6-AA victory over defending state champ Lovett on Friday, GAC lost 60-53 to Class AAAAA Southwest DeKalb on Saturday and then 56-48 to Carver -- Alabama's No. 4-ranked Class AAAAAA team -- in Montgomery on Monday

"I was hoping to go 2-2 and we almost did," Boyd said. "We'd won two of the three tournaments we played in, but that competition wasn't up to what we really needed. I wanted some more tough games."

SACA, which lost to Wesleyan in the Class A title game last year, certainly was a quality test. Among the Warriors' victims this season are Buford and Wesleyan.

But GAC got a big second half from Sydni Means and forced overtime by closing the fourth quarter on a 8-2 run capped by fellow junior Brianna Cummings' 3-pointer with 39.5 seconds left.

But the Warriors (17-2) never trailed in overtime, holding off GAC by going 6-for-9 at the foul line in the extra period.

Means, who had eight steals and three assists, scored 13 of her 19 points after intermission. Cummings, who went past 1,000 points for her career on Friday, had 17 points and was 8-for-10 at the foul line.

GAC forced 23 turnovers, but committed 22 itself. That was costly, with taller SACA enjoying a 31-23 advantage on the boards.

"We made a few too many mistakes," Boyd said. "But we hung in there."

Alexis Carter, a 6-foot-1 senior, led SACA with 20 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. Amber Brown and Amy Griffin each scored 11 points for the Warriors. GAC had an 8-0 run en route to building an 18-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. SACA ran off nine straight points in the second quarter, though, and led 26-22 at halftime thanks in part to 15 turnovers by GAC, which had just four points in the period.

SACA was up 43-37 going into the fourth quarter and led 47-41 before GAC rallied behind Means and Cummings. But the Spartans, with a limited bench, didn't have enough left in overtime to pull off the victory.

GAC had only five players score, with CiCi Buford, Jasmine Hill and Cosette Mahre each contributing six points to back Means and Cummings. Buford had six rebounds, two less than Cummings.

The Spartans host Hapeville Charter in a Region 6-AA game on Friday, then play at first-place Wesleyan next Tuesday. The Wolves handed GAC its only region loss.

GAC boys 87, SACA 27

Collin Swinton had 18 points, Isaiah Wilkins scored 15 and the GAC boys improved to 17-3 with an 87-27 rout of Southwest Atlanta Christian (3-16).

GAC led 28-4 after the first quarter and 46-14 at halftime. It was 71-22 going into the shortened fourth quarter.

Justin Lewis had 12 points for the Spartans, while Cam Boyd, Troy Morrison, Andrew Lewis, Tyler Hamilton and Landon Tabor all scored eight.

After facing region foe Hapeville Charter on Friday, the Spartans will get a major test Saturday when they play Olympic of Charlotte in the Hilton Invitational at Norcross. Olympic is 15-0 and ranked No. 21 nationally by USA Today.