IRWINTON -- Tattnall Square veteran Haley Gordon scored a lone point the last time the Trojans played rival Stratford.
“I had a little motivation (Saturday) after that,” she said.
It certainly showed.
The senior wing scored a game-high 17 points and sparked a surge that broke the game open for Tattnall in a 45-37 victory in the GHSA Region 7-A tournament championship game at The Palace at Wilkinson County.
Gordon scored eight points, added a steal and an assist in a run of 14 straight points during the first three minutes of the second half to hand Tattnall a 30-14 cushion. She connected on two of the trio of 3-pointers she had for the game in the decisive spurt, the first coming off the second-half inbounds pass.
“We talked about (last game against Stratford) before the game,” Tattnall head coach Todd Whetsel said. “I said, ‘Look, you’re gonna get your shots, and you’ll make them this time.’ That’s what she did.”
Gordon followed her opening 3 with a steal and pass to Jordan Allen for a layup. The turnover was one of four Stratford suffered that Tattnall converted into points in the spurt.
“We had a walk-through (Saturday), and every one of those situations we had a turnover, we went over,” Stratford head coach Ed Smith said. “We just didn’t respond in the third quarter. We didn’t execute the way we needed to, and you can’t do that against a veteran team like they are.”
Both teams now await Tuesday’s release of the Class A private school power rankings to see where they’ll be placed in the 16-team, bracket, for a first-round game Friday. At 26-2, Tattnall expects a home game. Stratford is now 20-6 with half of the losses coming to the Trojans.
Stratford had the game going its way early. Utilizing a high-low post game, the Eagles were able to get a host of good shots around the basket or draw fouls.
But they were unable to capitalize on either, connecting on just 5-of-20 shots from the floor and only 4-of-16 from the foul line.
“Tattnall dodged a bullet the first half,” Smith said. “We did what we wanted to start but couldn’t get any momentum because of the foul shooting. That really hurt.”
The Trojans grabbed the momentum from the outset of the second half and were challenged only once midway through the final quarter when Stratford drew within seven points. Tattnall, however, scored eight of the game’s next 10 points.
“It was a new half,” said Whetsel, whose team was only 5-for-19 from the floor in the first half. “We just needed to play good defense and hit some shots.”
With Gordon hitting her first 3, and the team going 6-for-7, the game changed in a three-minute span.
“We got a little angry with each other the way we played to start,” Gordon said. “We all came back together and picked up the defense. We wanted the region championship.”