Mary Garber Holiday Classic: Thomasville upsets two-time defending champion
Making its first appearance in the Mary Garber Holiday Classic, Thomasville wanted to prove it could play with the larger schools.
Last Thursday in the semifinals at Atkins High School, they followed through. Rallying back from 16 down early in the second half, the Lady Bulldogs surprised 4-A defending champion Mount Tabor in a 54-52 thriller. It was the first loss of the season for the Spartans who had won two straight Mary Garber titles, along with two more from 2007-08.
“I told the girls before we started this tournament that it would be a great opportunity for us to play in it,” said THS coach Brandon Staton. “They wanted to play with these big schools in Winston and they have done that.”
Thomasville struggled from the field in the first half netting the same amount of points they trailed by, 13. Ebone Stevens made the hole bigger with a 3-pointer right after intermission. Down by five late in the third quarter after two baskets from Timber Tate, the Bulldogs allowed the lead to grow back to nine with a quarter left.
Taking the first four points of the final stanza, THS mounted a rally that would end with a senior carrying the load. Still down six with 2:40 remaining, Joslyn Spires tightened the shoe laces and got after it. She hit consecutive 3s and added a 3-point play the hard way to close the gap down to a single point at 49-48.
A Jashana Thomas drive and layup gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the night. Spires and Christina Coleman added a pair of free throws to stretch the lead to four.
Mount Tabor had one final shot to tie down two with 4.5 seconds left, but Avis Weatherly’s pass ahead into traffic was knocked away and time expired as the teams battled for the loose ball.
Spires ended up with 15 points — 13 coming in the final quarter.
“She has been fighting through some sickness and those last couple of minutes she took over,” said Staton. “That is the kind of leadership we need from her.”
Spires and her teammates were all smiles afterward.
“It feels great to beat them,” said Spires. “We really wanted to knock them out and not let them win it again. We just wanted it more. We knew we could do it and we fought to get it.”
Coleman added 12 points and Tate had 11.
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.