Cougars pull ‘Cinderella Story’ effort at Region Tournament

Published 6:05 pm Friday, February 17, 2017

A Cinderella Story has begun to unfold in the first two rounds of the Georgia Independent School Association basketball playoffs. The GCA Cougars had stunned their first two opponents and continue to improve on their season. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 14, Grace tipped off as a six seed. They were set to play Highland Christian who sat as a three seed in the first round.

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From the jump it was a dogfight. Grace came out of the gate hot and led by three at the end of the first. By halftime they were up 21-15. Halftime changed Grace’s luck.

Highlands turned the tides in the third quarter, outscoring Grace by 10 via a 16-point quarter. Going into the fourth, the score was 31-27 in favor of Highlands.

The game came down to the fourth quarter, and Grace played their hand to the best of their ability. They poured in 19 points in the fourth quarter and Highlands was unable to keep up, giving Grace the important 46-41 win.

“The guys have played really well lately,” said Head Coach Mallory McRae. “We came in to the tournament as the sixth seed, and I think the other teams had counted us out.”

They didn’t have time to celebrate though, because two nights later on Feb. 16, they had their next opponent. This time, it was the second seeded Crisp Academy.

Grace had the momentum following their first round upset, but Crisp had the talent to balance out the momentum. The two clashed in the first quarter, scoring 19 a piece to head into the second quarter tied. Crisp started to pull away in the second quarter, outscoring the Cougars by seven. Heading into halftime, the score was 34-27.

Grace surged back after halftime, wiping away at the 7-point deficit by scoring 18 in the third to Crisps 14. The score was 48-45 heading into the fourth in favor of Crisp. The clock seemed to be nearing midnight, and Grace’s Cinderella story was hinging on three points.

Grace somehow stopped their clock from hitting midnight, and scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to put themselves up 62-59 as the final buzzer sounded, solidifying themselves in the next round of the playoffs.