PREP BASKETBALL: ‘It’s pretty surreal’: Good Hope punches ticket to Final 4 with 62-44 win over Priceville

The Good Hope Lady Raiders defeated Priceville 62-44 Wednesday night to advance to the Final Four. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – After defeating Deshler in the Sweet 16 on Monday, the top-ranked Lady Raiders of Good Hope were back on the court at Wallace State taking on Priceville in the Northwest Regional Finals Wednesday night. Good Hope got off to a fast start once again, building a 21-2 lead in the second quarter. The Bulldogs weren’t able to overcome the early onslaught and the Lady Raiders punched their ticket to their first Final Four since 2012 with a 62-44 win over Priceville.

Good Hope jumped out to early leads in both their Northwest Regional wins over Deshler and Priceville. Head Coach Justin Aby is pleased with the way his team is executing their plans on the defensive and seizing momentum early in games.

“We just continued to be us. We applied a ton of pressure. We wanted to get into as fast paced a game as possible with Priceville and we felt like that did nothing but help us out,” Aby said. “So that’s what we did and once again we had our community behind us. The fan support was great, so it was a great atmosphere.”

Ava McSwain led the Lady Raiders in scoring with 31 points and earned Regional Tournament MVP honors. She posted 61 combined points in the wins over Deshler and Priceville and after going through a slump earlier in the season, McSwain and Aby are both excited that she’s found a good rhythm at the right time.

“I’ve just been preparing really hard with my team this week,” McSwain said. “I kind of went through a slump where my threes weren’t falling so, I’m just glad that they’ve started falling.”

“Ava is playing really good basketball right now and she’s playing it at a perfect time,” Aby said. “The thing about our team is we have so many girls that can score the basketball. So, when one girl isn’t having her best game, we’re going to have other girls are going to step up. I really think that all five we have on the floor can score the basketball so it’s just about sharing the rock and making it a little easier for others.”

Good Hope seniors Ivey Maddox and Bailey Tetro have helped the Lady Raiders to Regional appearances each of the last three seasons and now that they’ve broken through to the Final Four, they’re excited to see what they can do in Birmingham next week.

“It’s pretty surreal considering we’ve been put out the last three years and now that we’re heading to Birmingham it’s just a great feeling,” Maddox said. “It’s really special.”

“Yeah, it’s awesome,” Tetro said. “I’m so glad that I got to experience a win like this with teammates that I’ve been playing with for four or five years and I’m just excited for what we can do next week and I’m ready to prepare for it.”

Good Hope 62 – Priceville 44 (Northwest Regional Championship)

Charly Johnson buried a three from the right corner to give Good Hope a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter. Baskets by Ava McSwain and Ivey Maddox made it a 7-0 game and Maddox sank a pair of free throws midway through the period to make it 9-0. Bailey Tetro whipped a quick pass into the paint to a cutting McSwain and she laid it in to put the Lady Raiders in front 11-2. McSwain finished the first quarter strong, scoring six straight points in the final minute of the period to extend Good Hope’s lead to 17-2 at the start of the second.

McSwain’s scoring run continued into the second quarter with a pair of free throws that made it a 19-2 game. Heather Tetro knocked down a jumper to give the Lady Raiders a 21-2 lead, but Priceville was able to cut it to 21-8 with just over five minutes to play in the first half. Bailey Tetro drilled a three from the right corner and McSwain laid another one it to keep Good Hope in front 26-10 midway through the second. After another McSwain basket, Bailey Tetro hit a pair of free throws to make it a 30-14 game with two minutes remaining in the first half and the Lady Raiders went into the locker room leading Priceville 32-19 at the break.

McSwain’s big night continued in the second half. She scored Good Hope’s first nine points of the third quarter to keep the Lady Raiders ahead 41-26. Baskets by Maddox and Bailey Tetro helped maintain a 47-30 lead with less than two minutes to play in the third and Good Hope went into the final frame with a 16-point lead over Priceville.

Maddox scored the first five points of the fourth quarter for Good Hope to make it a 52-33 game and baskets by Bailey Tetro and McSwain kept the Lady Raiders in front 56-38 with four minutes on the clock. Priceville sent Good Hope to the line to extend the final three minutes, but the Lady Raiders sank five of their final six attempts to put things out of reach and secure a spot in the Final Four with a 62-44 win.

For Aby, seeing a group of seniors that he’s been coaching since he arrived at Good Hope reach so many of their goals has been special, but he knows they have their sights set on even more.

“They’ve been with me through the long haul ever since I got the job. This is year number five for me, and I’ve had them on my roster ever since. I’ve seen them work during practice, outside of practice, before school and the amount of time they’ve put into this game is amazing,” Aby said. “Just to see them add one more thing to the resume of what they’ve already accomplished is awesome to see as a coach and I’m proud of them. Most coaches would be tickled to death, and I would too, if it was over right now but these girls have so much more that they want to accomplish.”

McSwain racked up a game-high 31 points in the win. Maddox finished with 12 and Bailey Tetro posted 11. McSwain, Maddox and Bailey Tetro each earned All-Tournament honors and McSwain was selected as MVP.

Good Hope will now begin preparing for a 4A State Semifinal matchup with Prattville at Legacy Arena in Birmingham Tuesday at 3 p.m.

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