By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Holly Pond is heading to the varsity girls championship of the Cullman County Basketball Tournament to take on Good Hope.
Taylor Terry led a group of four Broncos in double figures, and Rachel Finley continued to shine in an increased role since Lexy Malone’s departure, allowing Holly Pond to dispatch West Point 64-44 on Thursday night. The victory sets up a Bronco-Raider final for the third consecutive year.
“It feels awesome,” said a beaming Meg Gambrill, who pitched in 13 points for Holly Pond, just moments after the semifinal.
Terry’s senior leadership has been heavily leaned on this season, and she certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard in the No. 6 Broncos’ 20th win.
Terry exploded out the chutes with 11 of her game-high 18 points in the first quarter and added another five before halftime to aid Holly Pond’s 38-19 advantage at the break. She appeared to have fun all the meanwhile, breaking out in a smile once after banking in a 3-pointer and again after hurling an overhand pass across court to Finley, who proceeded to knock down a trey.
“We worked our butts off in practice these past few days,” Terry said. “We just got it running.”
Finley has done everything asked of her by coach Scott Adams since Malone suffered a season-ending ACL injury for the second straight year. She had arguably her biggest impact to date on Thursday, draining four 3-pointers en route to a 14-point performance.
“When Lexy went out, she took that and knew the role was going to be taken upon her,” Gambrill said. “She works her butt off just as hard as we do, so she deserves good games like that.”
After jumping out to a 19-5 lead by the end of the first quarter, West Point (10-11) came clawing back with an 11-3 run to start the second. Gambrill put an abrupt halt to that comeback attempt, however, hitting a 3-pointer, converting a three-point play and sinking two shots to tally 10 points as she headed to the locker room. The sophomore connected on three free throws in the second half to account for her last three points.
“I knew if I could get a couple of points, my team would handle the rest,” Gambrill said.
The fourth Bronco (20-4) to crack double-digits was Natasha Holcombe. She tickled the twine on a 3-point attempt to open the ballgame and wound up with 13 points.
Madison Hicks was responsible for three of Holly Pond’s points, while Lacy Malone scored two and Kristen Sparks had one.
West Point’s Mallory Walker and Kari Williams both finished with 10 points and two 3-pointers apiece. Rachel Persall tacked on nine points; Jamie Beasley, five; Courtney Walker and Madison Rusk, four each; and Taylor McManus, two.
The Broncos have bested Good Hope in both of its previous meetings this season, defeating the Raiders 46-33 and 54-43. Still, Good Hope will enter Saturday’s title tilt at 5:30 p.m. as the two-time reigning champs.
Terry was on the floor for Holly Pond’s last two championship defeats. She doesn’t plan on seeing that number increase to three.
“I don’t think there are words to describe how bad we want it,” Terry said.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at email@example.com.