Five Columbus High players scored in double figures to pace the Lady Blue Devils to an easy 73-34 win over Gilmer County on Friday night in the opening round of the GHSA Class AAAA state basketball tournament.
The Lady Blue Devils will now advance to the second round of the tournament and will host either Eastside or Marist in Columbus on Monday. Those teams play Saturday afternoon.
"Heading into the game, we knew that size was going to be an advantage for us," Columbus coach Joe Cherrone said. "We didn't head into the post right away because we wanted to see if we could get the outside shot to fall and we did."
Gilmer tried to shock Columbus in the early going in the game as the Bobcats raced out to a 5-0 lead. Jade Green began the game with a layup and Sarah Lambert nailed a 3-pointer to rattle the home fans.
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After the Lady Blue Devils shook off the rough start, Columbus finally knotted the game at 9 on an Alexia Manning 3.
Gilmer would retake a slim 10-9 lead before Columbus closed the quarter on a 16-0 run to go in front 25-10. Manning added two more 3s while the Lady Blue Devils used their press and speed to get easy layups.
The run would stretch to a 26-2 spurt as Columbus took a commanding 35-12 lead midway through the second quarter.
"Our girls have a tendency to feel out the other team before we get going," Cherrone said.
After taking a 45-18 lead into the break, Columbus extended its lead even further as the Lady Blue Devils limited Gilmer to just two points in the third quarter. Columbus scored the half's first 12 points using their size on the offensive boards to get second-chance points.
Gilmer was able to add some points in the fourth quarter. Bailey Charles had four in the final frame for the Wildcats. Shardonee Hayes dominated the glass for Columbus in the fourth, scoring six points after grabbing two offensive rebounds.
Manning led all scorers with 16 points, while Hayes had 10. Jazmyn McIntosh, Khayla Lloyd and Tatyana Wyatt also had 10 points.
Charles had a team high 10 points for Gilmer.
"We have to get the ball in the post on Monday to be successful against either team that we play," Cherrone said. "We have an advantage and we have to capitalize on it."
Friday at Columbus
Gilmer Co. 10 8 2 14--34
Columbus 25 20 17 11--73
Gilmer County (34)
Bailey Charles 14, Sarah Lambert 8, Jade Green 7, Britton Farlow 3, Hannah Colwell 2
Alexia Manning 16, Shardonee Hayes 10, Jazmyn McIntosh 10, Khayla Lloyd 10, Tatyana Wyatt 10, Ariyah Copeland 8, Brittany Floyd 4, Jacqueria Gunter 4, Marlisa Scott 1