published Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Baylor back in Best of Preps final against GPS

Heritage's Alex Belk (10) is guarded by Baylor's Selena Popp (23).
Heritage's Alex Belk (10) is guarded by Baylor's Selena Popp (23).
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.

How Baylor's girls pulled away from Heritage on Friday wasn't exactly pretty: a basket here, a stop there. Yet they're in the same position as they were a year ago -- in the Times Free Press Best of Preps tournament final.

The Lady Red Raiders crept away from the Lady Generals, ending the game on an 11-3 run for a 47-33 victory to advance to tonight's championship game against chief rival GPS. Baylor (9-6) overcame some shaky moments with a defense that forced 25 turnovers.

Kaleigh Clemons led the Lady Raiders with 19 points, adding six assists.

"The Heritage zone bothered us tonight, and it shouldn't have," Baylor coach John Gibson said. "You have to take what the zone is giving you. You have to move the ball around, but we didn't execute that tonight. We didn't play the game in order.

"We got away with one tonight."

The Lady Raiders never trailed, but their lead never reached double figures until a 3-pointer by Skyla Looper 40 seconds into the fourth quarter. Heritage (10-3) responded with five consecutive points to get within six, but Clemons came through with a big three-point play and Baylor cruised from that point on.

"We're always going to play hard and guard hard. We played extremely hard tonight, but we just didn't take great shots," Gibson said.

Looper was the winners' second-leading scorer with nine points, while Abby Hubert added eight. Jada Hubbard had 15 points to lead the Lady Generals, but no teammate had more than five.

"I think the game was a little closer than the score indicated," Heritage coach Eddie Bryant said. "Baylor is a good team and they have good players -- you have to play at a high level to beat them. If we take care of the ball, maybe it's a different game."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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