By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
HANCEVILLE — Abby Gambrill and Ruth Horton starred on offense, while guard Melissa Clingman marveled on the defensive end, as the Holly Pond junior varsity girls eased past Good Hope 39-30 and advanced to the championship game of the Cullman County Basketball Tournament.
The Broncos will face top-seeded Cold Springs on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Good Hope kept Holly Pond at bay for most of the first half, taking a three-point advantage after Kaylee Maddox scored seven straight points for the Raiders to end the second quarter.
Celest Whisenant made it a five-point lead on the Raiders' first possession of the third quarter, but after that, the Broncos' offense started to roll.
A quick 3-pointer from Horton and a layup from Clingman tied the game at 22 apiece. From there, Gambrill took over for Holly Pond.
The Broncos' guard made back-to-back 3-pointers to give her team a six-point lead and all the momentum heading into the fourth quarter.
"I knew we needed to score," Gambrill said. "I knew I needed to step up and be a leader for my team."
Holly Pond's offense made way for its defense in the final frame, allowing just three field goals in the quarter and four in the half.
Clingman was a big reason for the Broncos' success, playing suffocating defense, while tipping numerous passes and even coming up with a couple of blocks, one of which emphatically ended the game. She also made four free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
Gambrill said her team's psyche was a big reason for the win.
"We just kept a good attitude the whole game," she said. "We knew that we could win, so we stayed after it and played good defense. We also made some 3's."
Gambrill will join her cousin, Meg, in a title game appearance for Holly Pond. The varsity girls will play Good Hope in the championship for the third-straight time on Saturday.
"It's nice to do that," Gambrill said with a smile.
Horton notched 12 points, while Gambrill contributed with nine.
Other Holly Pond contributors included Clingman, six points; Barksdale, five; Taylor Tankserley, four; and Adair Gillian, three.
Good Hope's Syndey Phares made three 3-pointers and led the Raiders with 11 points. Whisenant added eight.
Maddox scored all seven of her points in the first half, while Alyssa Harlan and Savannah Mork each netted two.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org