Goose Creek 46, West Ashley 29
If defense wins championships, then Goose Creek girls basketball coach Tim Baldwin might as well begin to rearrange the trophy case.
The Gators used stifling defense Tuesday night in their 46-29 victory over West Ashley in a Region 7-AAAA showdown.
The Gators didn't allow a basket in the third quarter until Dekeiya Cohen scored on a three-point play the old-fashioned way with six seconds left in the period. The Gators also forced nearly 20 turnovers and allowed only 11 points in the second half as they took command in the region title hunt. They have won four straight region titles and six during Baldwin's tenure.
Goose Creek upped its record to 15-4, including 2-0 in region play. West Ashley fell to 12-3, 1-2.
"This puts us in the driver's seat," Baldwin said. "Coming into the season, we definitely felt West Ashley was the team to beat. So this definitely puts us in a place where we want to be."
Goose Creek forced turnovers and made West Ashley coach Maria Williams rethink the way her team attacks on offense.
"We made way too many turnovers," she said. "That's been a problem for us all year. We don't take care of the basketball. We might have to go to a halfcourt attack. That's not good, because we're too quick to set up in a halfcourt offense."
Cohen was about the only bright spot for the Wildcats. The super sophomore needed 12 points to reach 1,000 for her career, finishing with 12.
"We didn't get enough firepower to complement her. She had to work a double shift," Williams said. "She had to be a point guard and scorer. No one knew that she was closing in on 1,000 points until today when my assistant told me she needed 12. She's humbled by reaching that milestone."
The Gators played a 3-1 defense with Ashley Fields guarding Cohen. Baldwin praised Fields' defensive skills.
"Cohen's averaging about 20, and we held her to 12," he said. "We made her work for every point she scored."
N'Dea Bryant, who will play collegiately at North Carolina, led all scorers with 15 points. Brittany Doctor added eight and Fields had seven for the Gators, who play Wando on Tuesday.
Baldwin was pleased with the victory and by the way his team stepped up at the free-throw line. The team shot 70 percent, almost 20 percent above its average.
"We played great defense, too," Baldwin said. "We forced turnovers. Everyone clogged the fast-break lane and got their hands on the ball. We came in with a gameplan and were able to follow it."
Goose Creek (46): Doctor 8, Tanner 3, Liner 6, Fields 7, Bryant 15, Jones 5, Frazier 2.
West Ashley (29): Wesolek 5, Cohen 12, Walker 4, Stokes 4, Hardaway 4.
Records: Goose Creek 15-4, 2-0; West Ashley 12-3, 1-2.