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Second-half surge powers GAC girls basketball to tourney win

NORCROSS — Greater Atlanta Christian’s girls basketball team may have gotten a wake-up call in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament at Long Forum.

But it only took one half for that call to be answered as GAC broke open a tight game in the second half and pulled away for a 74-48 win over Greene County on Friday night.

With the victory that included a season-high offensive output, GAC (21-6) moves into the second round to take on the Pepperell-Bowdon winner while Greene County, the No. 3 seed from Region 8-AA, closes its season at 17-10.

“I’m not sure why we didn’t have the energy in the first half, but we found it in the second half,” said GAC head coach Cal Boyd. “Maybe it was nerves, I’m not sure. But (Greene County) was hitting some shots in the first half. But I like the way we came out and played better defense in the second half.”

There were five lead changes in the first quarter and Greene County built a five-point lead at 12-7 midway through the opening period.

But GAC ran off the next 11 points and grabbed the lead for good before taking a 20-17 advantage heading to the second quarter.

However, Greene County hung around as GAC could only put together a 34-30 halftime lead – thanks primarily to a hot-shooting Tigers’ squad that was led by 15 points from Miranda Davis.

GAC was equally impressive on offense, led by Brianna Cummings’s 13 first-half points.

But GAC turned up the defensive pressure in the second half as the Spartans held Greene County to just 18 total points, including 10 in the decisive third quarter, and held Davis to just four points in the half to finish with 19 for the game.

Meanwhile, the GAC offense continued to click as Cummings added 21 second-half points to finish with a game-high 34 to go along with seven rebounds and three assists.

After taking a 55-40 lead at the end of three quarters, GAC marched home with the 26-point win by limiting Greene County to just eight fourth-quarter points, including only two field goals.

Along with 34 points from Cummings, Sydni Means was solid with 21 points, including a trio of three-pointers, to go along with 10 assists and three rebounds for GAC.

Freshman Lexi Mann added 10 points and five rebounds for the Spartans.

“We had some girls step up and knock down some shots for us,” said Boyd. “Offensively, we were sharp. But I still think we have some things to clean up defensively and it will only get tougher from here as we move deeper into the tournament.”

Along with 19 from Davis, Janika Mitchell had nine and Diondra Burgess and Jamaya Cleveland each had eight for Greene County.