When teams try to take away senior forward Tori Davis inside, that’s when someone else picks up the load and carries it on their shoulders.
Once again, that someone was junior guard Jessen Burk.
Burk netted a game-high 17 points against Sand Rock on Thursday in the opening round of the Cherokee Invitational Basketball Tournament. She also had five assists and four rebounds to lift the Class 4A, No. 8 Lady Warriors to a 50-39 victory.
Cherokee County (11-2) advances to Friday’s tournament semifinals at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena, where the Lady Warriors will face Class 1A, No. 9 Spring Garden (9-5) at 3:15 p.m. Spring Garden blew past Gaylesville 56-26 in its opening round game on Thursday.
Sand Rock (9-4) falls to the consolation bracket where it will take on Gaylesville (4-5).
“They did a really good job with help defense on Tori,” Cherokee County coach Travis Barnes said of Sand Rock. “They pretty much had two girls on her all night, and we had to have somebody step up. It seems like whenever Tori’s being taken out of the game, Jessen steps up and she did that again tonight.”
Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates was proud of how her Lady Wildcats contained Davis, but letting Burk have the open looks combined with Sand Rock’s scoring woes turned a close game at halftime into a semi-rout.
“Burk hurt us, but what hurt us even more was us not scoring,” Bates said. “We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole. Them getting 22 points that first quarter really hurt us. They only got six in the second quarter, but we just couldn’t get the ball to fall in for us. We took some good shots, then we started forcing some. We didn’t get quite what wanted on offense, but I was pleased with our defensive effort inside.”
Bates said the key stretch of the game was when the Lady Wildcats managed to cut the Lady Warrior lead to three at 24-21in the second quarter. Sand Rock had opportunities to cut their deficit down further, but missed a pair of shots inside the paint.
Still, things were manageable at halftime, with the Lady Wildcats trailing by five at 28-23. However, a 13-5 run in the third stretched the Lady Warrior lead to 41-28, which proved to be a deficit Sand Rock couldn’t overcome.
“When we missed those two inside shots, that was a crucial point,” Bates said. “It spread out from there and never got close again. We missed some key shots. We had some opportunities to score inside, but we just missed them. I think that was the key point. It kind of hurt our momentum and we kind of got down after that.”
Barnes said the Lady Warriors became a little flat in the second quarter
“We kind of let up, and that’s what made it tight at halftime,” Barnes said. “What I tried to get the girls to do in the second quarter was pull the game away, but they kind of let their foot off the gas. I think they learned a lesson from it.
“Our defense kept us in it. We just happened to find a way to win tonight with defense.”
Barnes said one of those defensive standouts was senior guard Darbie Rosser.
Rosser finished with nine points (including a pair of 3-pointers) and six rebounds, but Barnes said the intangibles that don’t show on the stat sheet helped lead the Lady Warriors to victory.
“I was really proud of Darbie,” Barnes said. “I thought she stepped up on the defensive end and had a ton of deflections and a lot of loose-ball plays. She took a charge. She just did a lot of the intangibles. I thought she carried us tonight defensively.”
Chelsea Ray also had a solid game for the Lady Warriors, posting 11 points, three assists and three steals. Davis grabbed 12 rebounds to go with her 10 points. Madison Brannon finished with eight boards.
Madison McCullough and Courtney Rowe led Sand Rock with seven points apiece. Shelley Sonaty finished with six points.
The following is a wrap-up of Thursday’s other girls tournament action.
Woodland 57, Collinsville 51
CENTRE – Leah Strain scored a game-high 22 points and Amy Strain added 11 points to lead Class 2A top-ranked Woodland to a 57-51 victory over Collinsville in the Cherokee Invitational Thursday at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
The Lady Bobcats (9-0) jumped out to a 17-6 first-quarter lead and held a 34-21 advantage at halftime. Woodland maintained a 45-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter before Collinsville (9-3) made things close with an 18-12 run in the fourth.
Christy Cox led the Lady Panthers with 18 points. Savannah Boyles added 15 points and Brittney Tidmore finished with eight points.
Shanna Strain added eight points for Woodland.
Woodland advances to meet Class 3A, No. 8 Glencoe in the tournament semifinals on Friday at 5:45 p.m. Collinsville falls to the consolation bracket where it will take on Cedar Bluff at 12:45 p.m.
Glencoe 74, Cedar Bluff 61
CENTRE – Laura Poovey posted 23 points and Jordan Sims added 12 points to lead Class 3A, No. 8 Glencoe to a 74-61 victory over Cedar Bluff in the opening round of the Cherokee Invitational Tournament Thursday at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
The Lady Yellow Jackets (9-3) led throughout the game. They held a 17-11 advantage at the end of the first quarter and led 42-30 at halftime. Glencoe was ahead 61-46 at the end of the third quarter.
Audrianna Hargitt led Cedar Bluff (7-7) with a game-high 27 points. Katie McGinnis finished with 15 points.
Glencoe faces Class 2A, No. 1 Woodland on Friday at 5:45 p.m. in the tournament semifinals. Cedar Bluff meets Collinsville in the consolation bracket at 12:45 p.m.
Spring Garden 56, Gaylesville 26
CENTRE – Haley Motes netted 19 points, had four steals and gabbed a pair of rebounds to lead Class 1A, No. 9 Spring Garden to a 56-26 victory over Gaylesville to open the Cherokee Invitational Thursday at Cherokee County High School.
The Lady Panthers (9-5) went on a 21-3 run in the first quarter and didn’t look back. They led 36-10 at halftime and 52-15 after three quarters.
Emory Reedy added 12 points, four steals and three rebounds for Spring Garden. Auburn Kirk came away with 10 points, four assists and a pair of rebounds. Tori Pierce finished with six points.
Taylor Tomlin led Gaylesville (4-5) with 12 points and a pair of steals. Lauren Hammett finished with six points, four boards and two steals.
Spring Garden advances to face Cherokee County on Friday in the tournament semifinals at 3:15 p.m. at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena. Gaylesville meets Sand Rock in the consolation bracket at 10:15 a.m.