gmc bball region tournament

Junior Deandria Stephens (5) tries to create some space in Saturday’s Region 7-A championship game against Stratford. 

SPARTA — GMC Prep girls basketball chose a bad night to have a subpar shooting performance.

The Lady Dogs fell to now five-time Region 7-A defending champion Stratford Academy 39-22 Saturday. The same two teams met in last year’s title bout, a game the Lady Eagles of Macon took by a score of 44-35. Neither team was lighting it up offensively Saturday at Hancock Central High School in Sparta, the site of the Region 7-A basketball championships, but Stratford had a better night shooting the basketball to take the victory.

GMC Prep girls coach Shawn Dennis accepted responsibility for his team’s tough night offensively. The Lady Dogs scored six points each in the first two quarters and just five points each in the final two periods.

“It was on me,” Dennis said. “I’ll take the blame for it. They played a zone, which doesn’t usually bother us too much, but we didn’t get the looks we normally do. And we weren’t able to get out in transition to get those baskets that are normally our bread and butter.”

Stratford went up 4-0 early, but the GMC girls answered back with a pair of three-pointers to take a 6-5 lead with less than three minutes to go in the first. The Lady Eagles retook the lead though before the first quarter horn sounded and never allowed the Lady Dogs to get closer than four points down the rest of the night. 

Coach Dennis implored his girls to not dwell on what could be a discouraging outcome.

“I told them that I know we’re disappointed in the result, but our season isn’t over,” he said. “We’ve got to get ready for this playoff push. There are a lot of teams out there that would be glad to be in the situation we’re in because their season’s over. We don’t have time to hang our heads because we’ve got to get ready for the playoffs.”

The Lady Dogs stood at eighth in the GHSA Class A-Public power ratings entering Saturday’s region championship. The top 24 teams earn a state playoff berth and the top eight receive a first-round bye. The rankings and bracket will likely be finalized Monday or Tuesday since the playoffs are set to begin next weekend. 

GMC boys fall in consolation game

The GMC Prep boys took down Lincoln County in two regular season meetings this year, but the Red Devils got the last laugh Saturday night.

The Bulldogs were up 13-5 after the first quarter, but Lincoln came back in a big way and won the Region 7-A boys consolation game 80-59 just before the girls region championship. The loss drops GMC to a fourth-place finish in the region.

Lincoln County brought showtime to the Hancock Central gymnasium as four different players had dunks in the second half, helping the team from Lincolnton to really seize and hold momentum. The Red Devils had four players finish in double figures, including freshman phenom Franquon Sherman who had a game-high 26. 

The GMC boys were 21st in the power ratings entering Saturday’s matchup while Lincoln was all the way up at ninth. The final rankings will determine whether the Bulldogs finish in the top 24 and earn a spot in the GHSA Class A-Public playoffs. If they do, they will have to travel in the first round.

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