gmc prep girls bball vs hancock

Junior DeAisha Stephens keeps her eyes on the basket as she goes in for a layup during the first half of Tuesday’s home region win against Hancock Central. Stephens would finish the night second on her team with 17 points with nearly all of them coming from near the hoop.

GMC Prep girls basketball kept another strong regular season rolling Tuesday when the Lady Dogs (10-2 overall, 6-0 region) defeated visiting Hancock Central 48-36. 

A pair of GMC juniors — Deandria Stephens and DeAisha Stephens — handled a majority of the scoring duties for the home team as the duo combined to put up 35 points (18 and 17, respectively) on a night where only five Lady Dogs scored. Hancock Central’s Amber Strother paced the visitors with her 15 points spread throughout the ballgame.

A lot happened in Tuesday night’s first quarter, but that did not exactly translate into points on the scoreboard. Neither team could really get into a groove as GMC had trouble scoring via its half court offense while Hancock struggled to hold onto the basketball at all. It would be a recurring trend for the team from Sparta. If there were a time of possession statistic in basketball, the host Lady Dogs would have led it mightily. 

Deandria Stephens gave her team a boost in the opening period’s final three minutes as she went to the line three times in just over a minute. She closed out the quarter with six points, allowing the home Lady Dogs to take a 9-7 lead into the second. 

The next frame is where GMC began playing the brand of basketball that will take the team far as long as it can do so on a consistent basis. Hancock went on a short 4-0 run to take the lead early in the second, but head coach Shawn Dennis’ girls put up 19 points in the quarter’s final six minutes. Nearly every point came in transition.

“We just picked it up on the defensive end,” Dennis said of his team’s play after the slow first quarter. “We got a few steals and got out in transition that gave our team some easy baskets. Right now that’s what we’re best at, and it helps our offense get into a rhythm.”

The third was GMC’s best working in the half court offense, an area in which the team has struggled, not so much in getting good looks at the basket, but in getting those looks to fall. Much of the team’s success in the half court comes via improvisation after an offensive rebound.

“It seems like we’re not quite sure what we want to do,” Dennis said. “We know what to do, we’re just not sure what we want to do at the moment. It’s like we’re a half-step behind moving the ball.”

Deandria Stephens put a nice punctuation mark on the post-halftime period with a rainbow 3-pointer in the final minute. Hancock was down 10 at that point, but the deep ball sent the Cordell Events Center crowd into a frenzy and put a dagger into the visitors’ hopes for an comeback upset. 

The win has the Lady Dogs set up nicely in the Region 7-A landscape for a third-straight season now. They’re trying to replicate last year’s feat of finishing the regular season with an unblemished region record. GMC Prep will look to add to that resumé Saturday when the team travels to Aquinas in Augusta. 

“They’re a solid team that does what they do well,” Coach Dennis said. “They’re not overly big, but they take care of the ball and they’re well-coached.”

The Lady Dogs will be back on their home floor Friday, Jan. 17 to take on Washington-Wilkes.  

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