• Emma Callihan fires a shot in the fourth quarter of last Thursday’s alumni game. She made five three-pointers for the Cats, which included four in the first half.
    Emma Callihan fires a shot in the fourth quarter of last Thursday’s alumni game. She made five three-pointers for the Cats, which included four in the first half.

Gilmer High hangs on to survive alumni Lady Cats, 59-54

The Lady Cat alumni game gave fans a glimpse of how the upcoming season is taking shape while enjoying the skills of the Lady Cat alumni.

A 10-year graduation rule keeps the Bobcat alumni roster in check, but the Lady Cat alumni team was filled with recent region players of the year, past and present college players and former all-state selections.

The current Lady Cats pounced early, and it appeared to be the makings of a blowout. However, the alumni battled back, as they had previously done so many times on that court.

The alumni increased their offensive production with each passing quarter, but fell just short in the end, 59-54.

“We did get out to a really quick start, which I was extremely proud of,” GHS coach Susan Nunn said of the Cats’ 17-2 run to begin the game. “I feel like in these type games we have that ‘in awe’ moment of looking at some of those players who’ve graduated and are great and we get off slow. 

“We’re still extremely young. We started the game with three sophomores and two seniors.”

GHS scored six quick points in the post and nailed a trio of three-pointers to help build its early margin. By the end of the first, GHS opened a 19-5 lead.

The alumni were able to get their offense going in the second, but the current Cats were still able to maintain a comfortable advantage. 

The teams traded points evenly in the post before moving beyond the three-point arc. Rising sophomore Emma Callihan made her third and fourth three-pointers of the game, but the alumni answered with treys from Kylie Smith Nunn and Megan Strawbridge O’Neal.

The current Cats built a 30-17 lead by halftime, but the alumni were not ready to go quietly.

GHS extended its lead to 37-22 with 3:50 remaining in the third before the alumni press began to give the Cats fits.

The alumni forced six turnovers in a 1:20 span. Bailey Charles scored twice after two steals and Kali Henderson did so as well with a steal and two easy points to trail, 37-28.

MaryLee Callihan scored in transition to end the alumni run before another Nunn thee-pointer. The Cats coughed the ball up twice more in the third, but still clung to a 39-31 edge.

“We shot great at the start of the game then stopped hitting shots for a while,” Susan Nunn said. “They picked up their offensive pace a little bit. We changed up our defense and tried to see if we could get  Kylie covered.”

Despite the Cats’ best efforts, Kylie Nunn was on a mission. She drained another three to begin the fourth and tallied 13 points in the quarter. 

Sarah Ledford Mooney scored seven in the fourth to give the alumni a daunting inside presence, and the score was knotted at 39-all with 6:15 to play.

Rising freshman Elly Callihan did her part in the post as well and netted six points in the fourth. The Cats were able to push their lead to five before Charles and Nunn made free throws and reeled them back.

Ahead 51-49, the Lady Cats delivered a dagger when rising sophomore Hope Colwell was fouled shooting a three-pointer. Not only did she make the shot, but added the free-throw for a four-point play.

The bulk of the final minute was spent at the free-throw line. Trailing 56-52, alumni Ashley Waters went to the charity stripe for three shots with 28 seconds on the clock. She was unable to convert, but Mooney made two just seconds later.

Rising senior Mallory Kiser sank 3 of 4 from the line in the final 14 seconds to preserve the Cats’ victory.

Times Courier

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