No. 1 BHS girls slay Trinity Christian Lions

Feb. 26—The Trinity Christian Lady Lions scored more than five points on the James A. Lunsford court Saturday. In fact, the visiting team to Baldwin High had the game-high scorer in guard Gabbie Grooms and her 23 points.

But while the first round was beyond a laugher — the No. 1 Bravettes over Southeast Bulloch 84-5 Feb. 21 — Kizzi Walker had her club in serious playoff focus for the "Sweet 16." It worked for a 20-point victory, 62-42, which means Walker's girls are on their way to the quarterfinals today (Tuesday, Feb. 27) for what should be an even tougher test at No. 4 Stockbridge High.

Stockbridge, at 21-6, is a region championship club from 5-AAAA but squeaked out a 63-61 second-round win against Southwest DeKalb. The GHSA universal coin toss fell in Stockbridge's advantage, making it the home team for the clash with the 26-2 Bravettes.

To get to this point, Baldwin's girls played an unusual game for them with a low amount of steals, six in all, and second-chance scoring. But Trinity Christian of Sharpsburg had no way to match-up with junior center Janaye Walker, who recorded a double-double with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Senior Madison Ruff was near the triple-double range with 17 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

For the first five minutes of the game, Baldwin was struggling in offensive efficiency with points in just three possessions. Two of those were end-to-end rushes by Ruff. But the Bravettes never trailed the Lady Lions, who had two 3-pointers go in during the last three minutes of the quarter.

The first of the long shots fell at 2:45, but then Baldwin went on a 9-5 run with a third end-to-end spurt by Ruff. From the bench, senior ZyKeria Paschal did a dribble move inside for two. Also in reserve, Ruff's sister Morgan sank a 3 (Madison assisted) to put the score at 17-10.

It was a first quarter of no steals or second-chance scoring by Baldwin. That latter stat changed, though, in the second with put-backs by JaMya Easley and Walker. Kassidy Neal made her second 3-pointer to set the biggest lead for Baldwin in the first half, 27-15.

The Lady Lions added four 3-pointers to the book in the second period to stay in the game. They were down 29-20 when they got the game's first steal at 1:14 until the half. For the first time after a made basket, Ruff did her end-to-end scoring sprint for the fourth time. Then, with seven seconds on the clock, Trinity Christian's last 3 brought the halftime margin to five, 33-28.

For the third quarter, the visitors only scored seven points as Baldwin started making steals and got a major push from Walker with six points. Four of those were of the second-chance variety. Points were also coming off steals by Pashcal and Madison Ruff. The Bravettes were up 48-35 with one more quarter to go.

Play was on the sloppy side in the fourth, but Walker put in six more points. Trinity Christian made just one basket from the field — for 3 — but Ruff followed with her fifth end-to-end run to get the final 20-point spread.

Trinity Christian is coached by former University of Georgia All-Southeastern Conference standout Lady Grooms, who played eight seasons in the WNBA and has coached high school basketball at Arlington Christian, Greater Atlanta Christian and Landmark Christian.

Baldwin and Stockbridge will be playing for a spot in the GHSA 4A semifinals that will be played Saturday at Ft. Valley State University at 1 p.m.