By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
GARDENDALE — Here’s an odd sort of statistic that you don’t run across in a typical high school girls basketball game, at least not at the Class 6A level: Over the course of two area tournament games, Gardendale held its opponents scoreless for 22 minutes.
As in zero points. Zilch. Nada. And the opponents weren’t cupcakes, either — when the scoreless streak began, Gardendale was behind by four points to Huffman.
But after shutting out the Vikings in the entire fourth quarter of Thursday night’s Area 12 first-round game, the Rockets picked up from that point and didn’t let Hewitt-Trussville score a point until less than two minutes remained in the second quarter.
That defensive effort led to a 41-13 victory in Saturday’s area championship contest.
The Gardendale defense completely stifled the Huskies, who simply couldn’t buy a basket. When they did get off a shot, it was often blocked by the likes of forward Chelsea Robinson. If it got past that and didn’t go in the bucket, either Robinson or center Chelsey Deloney were there for the rebound.
In short, the Rockets dominated from the start, knocking down 24 points before Hewitt finally hit a free throw, and the end result was never in any real doubt.
Rockets Coach Amy Barnett was ecstatic over her team’s showing.
“Defensively, it was probably the best four quarters we’ve had all year,” she said. “And they didn’t let up. We were able to score on the offensive end. It was phenomenal. It shows so much about what they are capable of defensively.”
Deloney, who was named the tournament MVP, led Gardendale with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
Jones led the Huskies with eight points, including two treys.
Now the real fun begins, as the Rockets host eighth-ranked Mountain Brook in the sub-regional round on Thursday night. There are a lot of tie-ins for this match-up, not the least of which is the fact that Barnett was an assistant coach for the Spartans last year.
“It’s tough, because they were my girls last year. I coached that group of juniors since they were in eighth grade,” Barnett said. “It’ll be one of the toughest games that I’ve coached. It’s going to be exciting, though. They’re a phenomenal team, and we’re going to have to get after it for four quarters.”
Another tie-in: Mountain Brook head coach Mark Cornelius coached the Gardendale boys team for three seasons, and was an all-state player for the Rockets in the late 1970s.