Hokes Bluff girls beat Gaston in quarterfinals


Hokes Bluff's Hannah Evans, left, goes in for a layup as Gaston's Morgan Beaird defends during the girls Etowah County basketball tournament Tuesday. (Photo by Nick Johnston | Gadsden Times)


Hokes Bluff set the tone for the evening with a stingy first quarter defensively on its way to a 46-33 victory Tuesday night over Gaston in the quarterfinals of the Etowah County girls basketball tournament at Beck Field House on the campus of Gadsden State Community College.

Hokes Bluff (17-4) allowed just three points to Gaston in the opening quarter while building a 12-3 lead after the first period. By halftime, the Eagles were on top 23-13. Hokes Bluff’s lead grew to 16 points at 40-24 early in the fourth. Gaston trimmed the lead to 42-33 with less than a minute remaining before Hokes Bluff provided the final margin at the free-throw line.

“We’re a good defensive team,” Hokes Bluff coach Jason Shields said. “We hang our hat on our defense. Don’t get me wrong, we like to shoot it, too. But we take a lot of pride in our defense.

“That’s one of the best games we’ve played defensively all year.”

After Gaston opened the game with a 3-pointer by Tanna Lawson, the Eagles responded with 14 straight points covering the remainder of the first quarter and the first basket of the second. 

Savannah Ward was the standout for the Eagles. The senior finished the evening with a game-high 17 points, while also helping to hold Gaston senior standout Morgan Beaird to a below average night. Beaird, who has more than 1,500 points in her career and is averaging more than 20 per game this season, managed just nine on Tuesday while being guarded primarily by Ward.

“Savannah’s playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Shields said. “Savannah did a good job tonight, but we did a good job around her.”

Summer Wilson also played a solid game for Hokes Bluff and posting a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Malory Moland grabbed 10 boards, while Elizabeth White and Carlie Shields chipped in six points and five points, respectively.

Kelsey Smith led Gaston with 11 points, and Kierra Porter scored eight.

The win for Hokes Bluff advanced the Eagles into Thursday’s semifinals against rival Glencoe. The teams split a pair of games earlier this season.

“That’s a knock-down, drag-out,” coach Shields said of the matchup with Glencoe. “There’s good intensity to it. I like playing it.”