In what could have been her final game at Richard Reid Court, Tattnall Square’s biggest player came up with a huge play.
Abby Rouse, a 6-foot-5 senior who signed with Valdosta State during the early signing period, came up with a three-point play with eight-tenths of a second remaining to lift the Trojans to a 37-34 victory over Eagle’s Landing Christian in the first round of the GHSA Class 1A private school girls basketball tournament.
Tattnall, which trailed by four at one point in the fourth, closed the game with a 9-2 run.
Lindsey Darden’s bucket with 10 seconds to go tied the game at 34. Tattnall missed the initial attempt at the other end, but Rouse was there for the putback and subsequent free throw.
Rouse led Tattnall (16-11) with 15 points. India Bellamy led ELCA (14-10) with 16 points.
Tattnall, seeded 12th, travels to No. 5 seed Holy Innocents next week for a second-round game. The Bears, who beat Wesleyan in last year’s Class 2A title game, finished second to Wesleyan in their region tournament and is the top at-large seed.
Three who mattered
Rouse: Rouse scored seven points in the fourth quarter. She also finished with eight rebounds and three blocks.
Allie Gordon: The Tattnall junior had five points and nine rebounds.
Bellamy: After scoring eight points in the third quarter to put ELCA in the lead, Bellamy took the floor to start the fourth carrying four fouls. She made just one basket in the final eight minutes, fouling out with 38 seconds to go.
Tattnall held ELCA to two points after the Chargers’ Sydney Thurston made a 3-pointer with 6:15 to go to put ELCA up 32-28.
Resilience: ELCA slowly chipped away at the six-point lead Tattnall had exiting the first quarter. But Tattnall had a comeback remaining after going down four in the early minutes of the fourth.
On their toes: The Trojans worked the floor well following Darden’s bucket, not taking a timeout while going the length of the floor.
Big task ahead: Holy Innocents (26-2) is third in the Score Atlanta Class 1A private school rankings behind St. Francis and Wesleyan.
They said it
Tattnall head coach Todd Whetsel on the strong finish: “We finished 9-2 after calling a timeout down four. I’m definitely proud of that.”
Whetsel on the team’s ability to overcome adversity late in the season: “We had our share of adversity this year. We lost some close ones, and that made us battle-tested. That’s one of the reasons why we pulled it out (Friday).”
Whetsel on Rouse’s putback: “It was just a hustle play. They scored with 10 or 11, and we just ran our break and got it to the rim. Abby got it back off the rim, got the old-fashioned 3. It was a great finish for here and her home career.”
Whetsel on Holy Innocents: “They’re up there in the power rankings. I have the feeling that they are the best team we’re going to see all year. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m glad to still be alive and advancing in the tournament.”
Tattnall heads to Holy Innocents for a second-round game, either Wednesday or Thursday, with the game time to be negotiated by the two programs.