Briarwood scored nine straight points late in the fourth quarter to knock off Gatewood for a 58-56 win in the GISA Region 1-AA championship game Friday night.
Malia Kency led the way for the Briarwood (27-2) with 23 points, while Tiffany Pate added 15 points and 16 rebounds. Leslie Calvert led Gatewood with 19 points, and freshman Gracie Bridges added 16.
Briarwood jumped out to a 22-7 lead behind Kency, who scored seven first-quarter points. The Florida Atlantic signee added seven points in the second quarter as the Buccaneers held a comfortable 35-21 halftime lead.
The young Gatewood team, which has been to four straight Final Fours and won two state championships in that time, came out in the third quarter and took its game to another level. The Gators cut the Briarwood lead to six on a basket by Bridges midway through the quarter and grabbed their first lead at 43-41 on yet another Bridges basket.
They held a 47-45 lead heading into the final quarter. Cowart was strong inside, scoring eight points in the third quarter, while Bridges also scored eight points in the quarter.
We felt really good with what we did coming out of halftime, said Gatewood head coach Melanie Walls, whose team starts two freshmen. It wasnt like we changed our entire game plan. We just started doing the little things better, like blocking out and not turning the ball over.
The Gators (19-5) upped their lead to five at 53-48 on a Bridges basket with a little more than five minutes left, but Calvert fouled out shortly after. Kency and Pate took over, scoring eight of the next nine points for Briarwood. The most important of those came with Briarwood clinging to a 53-52 lead. Inbounding from the corner, Kency came up with a perfect pass to Pate, who turned and scored and added the free throw to stretch her teams lead to four.
Losing Calvert obviously took us out of our rhythm, but really, its a great learning experience for a very young team, Walls said. We feel like we took another step towards being a very good basketball team.
The boys championship game was every bit as exciting as Gatewood (23-3) came back from a five-point third-quarter deficit to defeat Monsignor Donovan (24-3) 50-43. The Gators scored 17 of the final 21 points scored in the game, including 6-of-7 free throws in the final minute.
I dont want to say that I am surprised with this win, but we knew it would be very difficult to beat a quality team like Monsignor Donovan three straight times, Gatewood head coach Buster Douglas said. These kids never stopped believing we could do it, and we cant wait to see what we can do in the state tournament with a No. 1 seed.
Tanner Brackett led the way for Gatewood with 18 points, while Marcus Ford had 12 and Joe Welch added 10. Will Robinson led Monsignor Donovan with 17.