NORCROSS — The Greater Atlanta Christian girls gave top-ranked Wesleyan a scare 10 days ago and it was No. 2 Holy Innocents’ turn Friday night at the Long Forum.
The young Spartans are still looking for that breakthrough victory, though. Holy Innocents’ — Class AA state runner-up to Wesleyan last season — scored seven of the last nine points for a hard-earned 55-49 victory to remain a game behind the Wolves in Region 6-AA.
The Golden Bears (15-3, 6-1) routed GAC at home in early December, but this time it was much different. GAC (10-7, 4-3) led 28-25 at halftime and then made it a one-point game in the fourth quarter after falling behind by 10 points after a Holy Innocents’ blitz in the third.
“They’ve definitely improved and this is a tough place to play,” Holy Innocents’ coach Tony Watkins Jr. said. “They play hard and are very physical.”
GAC sophomore guard Robyn Benton, coming back from knee surgery, didn’t play in the first meeting between the teams, but had a team-best 11 points and four assists in the rematch.
“She makes a difference,” Watkins said. “She’s a dynamic player.”
Kaila Hubbard scored 11 of her game-best 17 points in the second half for Holy Innocents’, while Kayla Porter and North Carolina State signee Erika Cassell each had 10 points.
GAC freshman Kennedi Williams hit three 3-pointers and was joined with nine points for the Spartans by junior Lexi Mann. Sophomore Caria Reynolds had a game-high 11 rebounds and eight points, the same total as junior Tamiah Lewis.
The Spartans were ahead by seven points late in the second quarter, but Holy Innocents’ started the second half with a 12-0 and led 43-33 late in the third quarter before GAC regrouped.
GAC started the fourth quarter with a 7-1 run and it was tight from there, with the Spartans within a point at 48-47 in the late going. But Porter scored with 45 seconds left and Hubbard made two foul shots with 32 seconds remaining to close out the victory.
Holy Innocents’ plays defending Class A Private state champion St. Francis on Saturday in the Krossover Classic at Archer and it won’t be the only test for the team this weekend. GAC gave the Golden Bears one as well.