Gilmer Girls Take Down Unbeaten Tatum For Third Consecutive Regional Appearance
WINONA -- Maybe the third time will be the charm for Gilmer.
The Lady Buckeyes cruised to a 69-44 win against previously unbeaten Tatum in the Class 4A regional quarterfinal round Tuesday at Winona High School and thus reached the Region II semifinals for the third straight season.
This is what Gilmer wanted immediately after walking off the court last year two wins shy of a state tournament berth and four of a state championship. It's all out in front of the school once again.
"Every year, this is our goal, get to the regional tournament," senior guard Destiny Brooks said. "Get one step closer to state. Coach (Mandi) Simpson, she's mentally prepared us and physically prepared us. All the suicides, the runs -- It feels good to get the payoff. Everyone doubted us."
Brooks and the rest of the Lady Buckeyes (32-3) were very aware of the negative chatter surrounding the game.
Tatum (32-1) finished the regular season ranked fifth in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches' Class 4A poll.
Gilmer finished 12th in the state and behind the Lady Eagles within East Texas.
It took about 11 minutes for the Lady Buckeyes to unleash the full extent of their frustration on the court. Brooks scored seven points in a 20-second timeframe for a 22-11 lead and the Lady Eagles never again were within 10 points of the lead.
Brooks, who finished with seven 3-pointers and a game-high 26 points, wasn't the only one to have a field day.
Junior forward Kyla Grant had 12 points and nine rebounds in the first half. She finished with a double-double of 23 points and 15 total rebounds. Twelve of those boards came on the defensive end of the floor.
Grant largely held Tatum to 15 of 41 from the floor whereas Gilmer connected on 28 of 41 scoring attempts.
Belynda Ray added 10 points to round out Lady Buckeyes in double figures.
Tatum guard Brianna Mitchell, a junior, recorded 24 of her team's points. No one else scored more than six points.
"We knew that one of the advantages we had was our post play," Simpson said. "I mean, Belynda Ray and Kyla Grant are hard to stop when they decide that they want to play. Our team bought into it and they went to (Grant). She finished and she set her own tone by getting to the boards early."
Gilmer will take on Irving Ranchview in its first game of what is known as a regional tournament. A site -- in this case Texas A&M-Commerce -- is designated to host the two regional semifinal games and then the regional championship game the next day.
Ranchview and the Lady Buckeyes square off at 6 p.m. Friday.
District foe Bullard and two-time defending state champion Argyle make up the other side of the Lady Buckeyes' regional bracket and face each other at 8 p.m. Friday.
The semifinal survivors play for the regional championship at 2 p.m. Saturday.
"Ranchview's coach (Wendy Bartlett) is (Brooks') AAU coach," Simpson said. "It'll be a battle. We'll get in the film room and start studying like we do every game."
No. 12 Gilmer 69, No. 5 Tatum 44
Girls Class 4A Region II Quarterfinal Playoff
At Winona High School
Gilmer 13 25 17 14 — 69
Tatum 9 10 21 4 — 44
Gilmer (32-3) — Destiny Brooks 26, Kyla Grant 23, Belynda Ray 10, Bri Burns 3, Mecci Griffin 3, Meshia Shead 2, Kahriya Williams 2.
Tatum (32-1) — Brianna Mitchell 24, Ashton Brown 6, Adrianna Bradley 4, Ashley Johnson 4, Destiny Hicks 2, Jada Shans 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS — Gilmer: Brooks (7), Burns. Tatum: Mitchell (2).