GOOSE CREEK — It’s safe to say that Goose Creek girls basketball coach Tim Baldwin was not pleased with his team’s performance Tuesday evening against Ashley Ridge in the opening round of the Class AAAA playoffs. Fortunately for the 12th-year Gators coach, the lackadaisical effort did not result in the end of the season.
Despite struggling on both ends of the floor, Goose Creek held the visiting Swamp Foxes to single-digit scoring in three quarters en route to a 35-24 victory.
“I felt that we came out in the first half and just kind of laid around a little bit,” Baldwin said. “We didn’t play at the level we can defensively. We scored 20 points (in the first half), and that’s well below what we’re capable of doing.”
A tough task awaits the Gators (20-4) at 7 p.m. Friday in the second round: defending state champion, top-ranked and undefeated Dutch Fork, who defeated Irmo, 57-29, on Tuesday.
With 2:37 remaining in the first quarter, senior guard Jalvin Jones stole the ball and calmly scored the ensuing layup while being fouled to cap an 8-point swing for Goose Creek, which also included back-to-back 3-pointers from Alex Ludwig.
With a 10-4 lead at that point, it looked as if the Gators might pull away. But Ashley Ridge stayed within striking distance knotting the game at 13- and 15-all in the second quarter before Goose Creek built a narrow 20-17 cushion at halftime.
“When you play a team like (the Swamp Foxes) that’s scrappy, you’ve got to scrap with them,” Baldwin said. “And we didn’t do that until the third quarter.”
A decisive third quarter in which Ashley Ridge recorded just two points allowed the Gators to build a 30-19 advantage. Six different players scored for Goose Creek in third frame, and the 11-point deficit entering the final stanza was too much for the Swamp Foxes to overcome.
“We talked about it in the locker room, and we knew (the Gators) were going to come out and pressure,” said Ashley Ridge coach Chris Shaw, whose squad closed its season with a 12-10 record. “And that’s exactly what they did. They extended a little bit more. They played a little bit more aggressive. And we didn’t handle the pressure as well as we should have.”
It also did not help the Swamp Foxes’ cause when all-state junior guard Shelby Daly fouled out with just under five minutes remaining in the contest.
Ultimately, Goose Creek’s experience paid off against an Ashley Ridge squad that included that included two seniors, two juniors and 10 underclassmen.
Though not reflected in the scoring column, High Point University signee Ashley Fields was active on defense and controlled the tempo for the Gators down the stretch.
“She does all the little things,” Baldwin said.
Jones finished with 13 points as the game’s only scorer in double digits. Ludwig chipped in nine points for the Gators, while Ashley Tierney led the Swamp Foxes with seven.
Goose Creek 35, Ashley Ridge 24
Ashley Ridge (24): Tierney 7, Baum 4, Daly 4, Glover 4, Cole 3, Cousins 2.
Goose Creek (35): Jalvin Jones 13, Ludwig 9, Fields 4, Broughton 3, Joy 3, Frasier 2.
Ashley Ridge 7 10 2 5 - 24
Goose Creek 10 10 10 5 - 35
Records: Goose Creek 20-4, Ashley Ridge 12-10.
Next Game: Goose Creek vs. Irmo/Dutch Fork winner in second round of Class AAAA playoffs Friday. Ashley Ridge: Season complete.