'THE JOB ISN'T DONE': Good Hope rolls into Final Four with 62-44 win over Priceville

Feb. 21—Although Bailey Tetro personified happiness in the present, she couldn't help but think about a disappointing past.

One of heartbreaking defeats and missed opportunities — and one which paved the way for Wednesday's euphoria.

Because while there's been no shortage of success for Good Hope's varsity girls in recent years, Tetro and the rest of her teammates have always fallen short of their ultimate objective — winning a state championship.

But the Class 4A No. 1 Raiders took their first step toward changing that narrative by beating No. 6 Priceville 62-44 at the Northwest Regional Tournament to advance to the Final Four for the first time since 2012.

"It's very disheartening when you've had this big goal for the past three years — and three years in a row you lose," Tetro said in reference to prior regional setbacks. "But I just love this group so much and all of our hard work has paid off to get us to this point. I was so happy to be able to finally experience this win with them."

Behind a 31-point performance from tournament MVP Ava McSwain and another early onslaught, Good Hope improved to 31-2 overall and will face No. 2 Prattville Christian in Birmingham next Tuesday at 3 p.m.

Coach Justin Aby couldn't have been happier to see his team celebrate the win and what it means for the program.

"It's an incredible feeling," he said. "These girls have been putting in work, not just for a year or two, but for several years. Everyone would be tickled to death with everything they've accomplished to this point, but I know these girls are hungry and want more — and they're going to do whatever they can to make that happen."

The Raiders scored the first nine points and parlayed 10 Priceville turnovers into a 17-2 lead after eight minutes.

And though the Bulldogs (19-12) settled in after that and kept the game within reach — thanks in large part to a 43 percent shooting percentage — they never seriously threatened Good Hope's advantage, which climbed as high as 19 points and never dropped below 13 in the second half.

"We like to speed the pace of the game up as much as possible," Aby said. "We've got the guard play and bench to be able to control the tempo. Any time you start off a game at 17-2, you feel good about it."

Good Hope overcame a somewhat shaky shooting effort — the Raiders made just 27 percent of attempts not taken by McSwain — but mitigated that with a big-time defensive performance.

In total, the Red and White forced 27 Priceville turnovers and converted them into 29 points.

"The saying that defense wins championships is 100 percent true, in my opinion," said Tetro, who, along with sister Heather, combined to swipe 10 steals. "A team can shoot well, but if they can't get a lot of shots up then there's not much they can do. My dad and brother taught me and Heather to take a lot of pride in our defense. We're small and fast. Anything we can do for this team ... we've got such great scorers that if me and Heather need to step it up on defense and distribute the ball on offense, then that's what we're willing to do."

Ivey Maddox (12) and Bailey Tetro (11) joined McSwain in double figures and on the All-Tournament Team. Heather Tetro (four), Charly Johnson (three) and Ella Gossett (one) also produced offensive contributions.

Abby Langlois, meanwhile, led the Bulldogs with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

While Good Hope will surely enjoy this victory, the time to turn its attention to next week looms.

Awaiting the Raiders in Birmingham is defending state champion Prattville Christian, which knocked off No. 7 Hale County 34-28 to win the Central Regional Tournament. The Panthers (27-7) also recorded back-to-back Class 3A titles (2021-22) and are 124-16 over the past four seasons. The Raiders are 117-20 during that same stretch.

"We'll spend the next few days resting up, working hard and preparing," Bailey Tetro said. "We're excited, but we're focused. The job isn't done yet. We've had two good wins here, but we need to carry that over into next week."