Remnants of the recent Christmas break were evident in the girls' high school basketball game Tuesday at East Hamilton. Not only did GPS and the Lady Hurricanes show signs of a layoff, but both teams were in a giving mood, too.
Ultimately, East Hamilton ended up with a few more gifts than the Bruisers and won 44-42 in overtime.
Perhaps it was fitting the game ended with the Lady Hurricanes' Jessica Caudle missing two free throws that would've sealed it, but missing with 0.9 second remaining left the Bruisers little chance of hitting a length-of-the-floor game-winner. Caudle had a chance to win it from the line in regulation but missed the front end of a bonus situation with 2.7 seconds showing.
She did, however, lead East Hamilton with 17 points.
"We perservered," Lady 'Canes coach Derek Morris said. "It was not pretty basketball. We came off break rusty."
The Lady 'Canes led most of the first quarter but GPS led most of the second. Four points was each team's largest lead before halftime, which ended with the Bruisers up 24-21.
They managed to extend their lead to 39-29 when Brianna Farris made a basket 25 seconds into the fourth quarter. But GPS managed one field goal the rest of the way, which was by Farris to start the scoring in overtime.
"They had opportunity after opportunity," Morris said of the Bruisers' work on the offensive boards through three quarters, "but I thought in the fourth quarter and overtime we took care of that."
Farris failed to complete a three-point play in both of the aforementioned instances and the Bruisers hit one of eight free throws in the fourth quarter and overtime. They ended up 31.6 percent (6-for-19) from the line overall. East Hamilton was 9-for-18.
"We missed enough layups and free throws to win the game big," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "You shoot 31 percent from the free-throw line, you don't win ballgames, especially when you don't play any better defensively than we did.
"I felt defensively we played poorly all night. They missed a ton of layups, too. This is a game we can learn from and get better from."
After falling behind by 10, East Hamilton got a three-point play from Juliette Harp right before perhaps the most pivotal stretch of the night. Caudle made a 3-point shot to cut it to 39-35, and then Lexi Zackery quickly converted a turnover on the inbound.
"When Jessica hit that 3 and Lexi made that steal and scored right after," Morris said, "that kind of changed the momentum of the game."
Zackery had 12 points for East Hamilton (8-6), including a basket in the lane with 1:21 to go in overtime that provided the lead for good. Harp contributed 10 for the Lady 'Canes.
Farris topped GPS (9-5) with 14 points. Chappel Sharrock added nine.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.