By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Getting up at the break of dawn to open presents on Christmas is pretty easy, even for most teenagers.
Rising bright and early for a basketball game the day after, though? Not so much.
That was the situation Holly Pond’s girls found themselves in with a first-round game scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Despite the early morning, the Lady Broncos eventually shed the sleep from their eyes and looked rather bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at times to outhustle Tanner 64-42 at Wallace State’s Tom Drake Coliseum.
The Green and White (14-2), Class 3A’s fourth-ranked team, will take an eight-game win streak into the semifinals of the Yule Tide Classic on Friday at 3:30 p.m. against 5A Athens or 6A Gardendale.
Holly Pond’s all-around length won out in the first and third quarters, resulting in blocks down low and tips, steals and turnovers on the perimeter that were easily transformed into transition points on the opposite end of the court.
The Broncos rode that defensive effort to a 13-5 first-quarter lead before Meg Gambrill erupted for 13 of her game-high 24 points in the second stanza to help the Green and White take a 38-22 advantage into the locker room.
Gambrill scored her team’s first 11 points of the frame, almost all coming on a quick 3-of-3 clip from 3-point range. Natasha Holcombe and Rachel Finley also added a pair of treys apiece in the first half, evening out Holly Pond’s handfuls of uncontested layups, inside shots and putbacks that uncharacteristically missed the mark.
“We’ve already played a morning game, and we played like five of ’em last year, so we’re used to it. But not usually right after Christmas, so you do have a little bit of a lull,” Bronco coach Scott Adams said of an understandably slow start for both squads. “But we took care of business. I’m pleased with that.”
The Green and White scored 11 unanswered points to close the third quarter with a comfortable 53-28 cushion.
Tanner took off on a 13-0 run of its own against the Holly Pond bench in the final frame. Holly Pond’s reserves eventually righted the ship, however, as Abby Gambrill and Adair Gilliland combined on a 7-1, game-ending run to round out the 22-point victory.
Meg Gambrill was accompanied in double figures by Finley, 14 points, and Holcombe, 10. Next in line was Abby Gambrill, who scored all seven points in the fourth quarter. Other Bronco contributors were Taylor Rowell, four points and four assists; Kaitlyn Stephens, three points; and Gilliland, two points.
Sydney Houston and Kelsey Houston tied for Tanner’s top scoring mark with 12 points.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.