Careful … life in the fast lane cane be hazardous to one’s health.
While not necessarily a place most teams would rather navigate, it is where the Goose Creek girls basketball team tends to thrive.
“Like in ‘Remember the Titans,’ it’s a bit like Novocain, baby. Give it a little time and watch it work,” said coach Tim Baldwin.
Down by a point at half, the top-ranked Gators picked up their pace to begin the final 16 minutes, running — literally — past Conway 60-38 in the Lower State 5A girls title game.
With the win, Goose Creek advances to play Wade Hampton for the Class 5A state championship.
Having seen the Gators during last year’s playoffs, Conway girls basketball coach Shamae Hemingway felt that experience would reap dividends for her team. And for a half of play, that was the case as all-state performer Lenaejha Evans and top rebounder Neci Hemingway controlled the game.
After falling behind 13-5, the Tigers would go on an 18-8 run, punctuated by a Christian Moore 3-pointer to give them a 23-21 lead. Conway led by as many as four during the stanza, but would see its advantage cut to one at the break, as an off-balance shot by Goose Creek’s Mariah Linney banked in.
It would be a precursor of things to come, as the Gators’ all-state performer seized control.
Thirteen of her game-high 26 points would come in the second half, with Linney’s third-quarter 3-pointer giving her team a 35-32 lead. Forward Shayla Nelson also came to the forefront in the third period, dominating the boards and doing her part to neutralize Hemingway on both ends of the floor.
More importantly, both of their contributions helped Goose Creek play at a speed the Tigers have not played all season.
“We got a little fatigued and went away from what was working for us,” Hemingway said. “It hurt us. We weren’t getting as much on the boards, not able to box out and get rebounds. And we just weren’t knocking down any shots.”
Evans was the only Conway player in double figures, scoring 21 points.
Along with Linney, Nelson had 16 points for Goose Creek.
Despite the season ending on a sour note, Hemingway said she couldn’t be happier with her squad’s season, hoping this is merely the beginning of a bright future for Conway girls basketball.
“We wanted to go further, but this is a good first step,” she said. “The girls got a taste. Now, hopefully it will encourage them to work harder so that next time we get here, we can finish.”
CON (38): Christain Moore 5, Zakera Chadmon 4, Neci Hemingway 8, Lenaejha Evans 21.
GC (60): Mariah Linney 26, Ciera Shivers 4, Aniyah Oliver 4, Mary Davis 5, Shayla Nelson 16, Daphney Saylor 5.
3-pointers: CON 1 (Moore), GC 5 (Linney 3, Oliver, Davis). Team fouls: CON 11, GC 12. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.
Records: CON 17-7, GC 26-1.