Lady Bronchos gain state Class 1A finals

CNJ STAFF

ALBUQUERQUE — Sparked by full-court pressure, Grady rallied in the final two minutes to beat Elida 40-38 Thursday in a Class 1A girls semifinal game at West Mesa High.

Stephanie Bailey’s free throw with 26 seconds proved to be the game-winner as Grady (26-5) survived a six-minute scoring drought in the fourth quarter and Elida’s huge edge in rebounding.

The game wasn’t decide until the final seconds when Jennifer Blackburn and Bailey blocked Keisha Chenault’s short baseline jumper and Grady was awarded possession of the ball with five seconds left on alternating possessions.

Brittany Bailey led District 4-1A champion Grady with 10 points in a seesaw game in which neither team led by more than three points in the second half.

Halee Best and Samantha Southard led District 3-1A runnerup Elida (17-13) with 10 points each.

Best’s free throw with 1:21 tied the score at 38 with 1:21 to go.

Taris Pond started Grady’s rally by hitting a pair of free throws with 1:56 to go in the game — Grady’s first points in the final quarter. The Lady Bronchos took the lead a little late when Heather Blackburn stole the ball in the backcourt and fed Brittany Bailey for an easy layup.

“I just told them to keep shooting,” Grady coach Alicia Rush said of the fourth-quarter drought that started with Grady up 34-31. “We were getting good shots.”

Elida used its height advantage to own a 39-24 edge on the boards. Chenault and Adrienne Coe grabbing 12 each for the Lady Tigers.

Neither team shot the ball well in a game in which Elida managed to slow the tempo. The Lady Tigers were 13-of-43 from the field while Grady was 13-of-53.

Grady 40, Elida 38
Elida (17-13) —
Casey Ford 0-3 0-0 0, Keisha Chenault 3-9 3-8 9, Samantha Southard 3-7 4-8 10, Kodi Armitage 2-3 0-0 5, Halee Best 4-11 1-3 10, Amber Griffin 1-2 0-0 2, Adrienne coe 0-5 0-0 0, Shalie Anthony 0-3 2-4 2, Totals 13-43 10-23 38.
Grady (26-5) — Jennifer Blackburn 3-8 1-2 8, Taris Pond 0-3 3-4 3, Aerial Verble 1-3 1-1 3, Brittany Bailey 3-14 3-8 10, Stephanie Bailey 3-19 3-5 9, Heather Blackburn 3-8 0-0 8, Totals 13-55 11-20 40.
3-Pointers — Elida 2-9 (Ford 0-1, Southard 0-1, Armitage 1-2, Best 1-5), Grady 3-10 (J. Blackburn 0-1, Verble 0-1, B. Bailey 1-4, H. Blackburn 2-4). Rebounds — Elida 39 (Chenault, Coe 12), Grady 24 (J. Blackburn 8). Assists — Elida 7 (Best 2), Grady 8 (B. Bailey, J. Blackburn 3). Turnovers — Elida 20, Grady 12. Total Fouls — Elida 18, Grady 21. Fouled Out — Pond.