It took less than 24 hours for the Lady Trojans to get their revenge.
After a 40-30 Friday night semifinal win over a Ringgold team that beat them twice this season, Gordon Lee (18-3) ratcheted up the defense in the second half and pulled away for a 49-34 win over top-seeded Heritage in Saturday's title game at Heritage Middle School.
"It's nice to go home and be able to say that we've beaten everyone in the league this year," said Gordon Lee head coach David Eason, whose team was in its ninth NGAC title game in the past 11 years. "We finished second to Lakeview last year with pretty much the same team, so that was good for us to have that experience. We had a few nerves, but we came out and played good basketball."
The game was a see-saw affair that saw six ties and six lead changes in the first three quarters with neither team pulling ahead by more than five points.
Tied 12-12 after the first quarter, Heritage took a 22-20 halftime lead on a late Sydney Smith three-pointer, and the Lady Generals led 27-24 with just under four minutes to play in the third quarter.
But a three-pointer by Molly Thomison tied the game at the 2:34 mark of the quarter, and following a turnover, guard Sarah Meadows got loose for a breakaway lay-up just 19 seconds later to give Gordon Lee its first lead since late in the first quarter.
They would never trail again.
The Lady Trojans' smothering defense held the Lady Generals to just one field goal over the last 13 minutes of the game, and shut them out from the field for the final 8:55. Gordon Lee collected four steals in just the first 1:12 of the fourth quarter alone.
"Defense has been our thing all season long," Eason explained. "Sometimes, we're a little challenged on the offensive end, but we've got a lot of people that can really play hard and get after it. We feel like we can sort of wear people out, and I think we just finally got to a point where we just had more energy than they did near the end of the game."
Meadows scored 10 of her game-high 21 points in the final period and assisted on two more buckets. She also grabbed five of her team-high 13 rebounds in the period and recorded two of three steals on her way to earning Tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
"Sarah is awesome," Eason said with a tear in his eye. "She's been with us since she was a sixth-grader, and she works really hard at being a good basketball player. It's been a big season for her, and she's been our leader all year long. Even today when it was time to rotate her out, the other girls said we had to leave her in because she had it all under control. Everybody on the team has confidence in her, and they know when the going gets tough, she can take over."
Katelyn Bickett had 13 points and five rebounds in the victory. Lexie Clark had just two points, but pulled down nine rebounds, while Thomison and fellow guard Faith Alexander combined for five points, five steals, and six rebounds.
"We've been blessed this year with two outstanding eighth-grader guards in Sarah and Molly, who handles the ball as well as anyone around," Eason added. "(Molly) is super quick and can really get to the basket, and Faith is just a seventh-grader, who we feel has a really bright future."
Nikol Taylor had nine points and five rebounds for the Lady Generals, while Smith, Rachel Thomas, and Tori Harvey had six points each. Smith pulled down a team-best 10 boards.