PREP BASKETBALL: ‘I love this team’: No. 1 Good Hope races past No. 2 Prattville Christian 59-29 to advance to 4A State Finals

The Good Hope Lady Raiders defeated Prattville Christian 59-29 Tuesday night to advance to this year’s 4A State Championship Game. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The top-ranked Good Hope Lady Raiders have been on quite a run this postseason and they made sure it would end in the state finals when they hit the court Tuesday. Good Hope faced off against the three-time defending state champion Prattville Christian Lady Panthers in the 4A State Semifinals Tuesday night and like they have throughout this postseason, the Lady Raiders jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, securing a spot in Friday’s 4A State Championship Game with a dominant, 59-29 win. Good Hope led by 20 at halftime and continued pulling away in the second half. The Lady Raiders held Prattville Christian to just 32% shooting from the field and Head Coach Justin Aby was excited to see his team continue to play their game on a bigger stage and impose their will on the defensive end of the floor.

“It’s great to finally be able to perform here in Birmingham. I feel like we’ve been so close in the years past and we got over that hump this year. To be down here has been a goal since day one and these girls have been chasing it for three or four years,” Aby said. “It’s great to be down here and as far as the game we had some girls that just wanted to show out and I think that’s exactly what they did. We focus a lot on the defensive end, and we held them in the 20s so I’m very proud for them for working their tails off on the defensive end.”

The Lady Panthers won three consecutive state titles coming into this season, but they ran into a wall Tuesday. Aby knows he has a talented team of scorers but he’s even more proud of the pride they take in their performance on the defensive end.

“Prattville Christian is a great team. They’ve won the last three, so he’s had some great players, but we have a talented group of girls who take pride on the defensive end just as much as they do scoring the basketball,” Aby said. “This team will wind up going down as one with three girls scoring over 2,000 points and another one scoring over 1,000 but for them to not just worry about the offensive end and take pride in guarding their girl and locking up on the defensive end is special.”

The Lady Raiders have started games fast all season and Good Hope seniors Bailey and Heather Tetro credit those fast starts to their team’s skill and unselfishness.

“I’m super excited. It’s been a long four years and there’s a lot of anxiety when you don’t make it until your senior year because any game can be your last game at this point. So, I’m super excited for the game Friday,” Bailey said. “We play a super selfless game; I love this team for that. We want each other to be great and the goal was just to come out and play hard and do what it took to win. I think that’s all of our goals.”

“I feel like we were able to get off to a hot start because like Bailey said we share the ball. We’re very selfless. Every single one of our girls can score the basketball, that’s not even a question,” Heather said. “The fact that we’re able to move the ball around and make it hard for defenders to guard us and keep us from scoring allows us to get off to our quick starts.”

Good Hope 59 – Prattville Christian 29 (4A State Semifinals)

As they have all postseason, the Lady Raiders got off to a fast start. Three-pointers by Heather Tetro and Ava McSwain put Good Hope ahead 6-3 early in the first and after Charly Johnson laid one in, Ivey Maddox knocked down another three to make it an 11-3 game. It was Bailey Tetro’s turn after that, and she scored the next seven Good Hope points to stretch the lead to 18-5. Heather Tetro drilled another three later in the opening period and the Lady Raiders went into the second quarter leading 21-10.

Shots continued to fall for Good Hope in the second. Bailey Tetro hit a three and McSwain sank a pair of free throws early in the quarter. McSwain scored through a foul and tacked on the free throw to give the Lady Raiders a 29-13 lead and later in the period, Johnson buried a three from the right wing to make it 32-17 with just under four minutes remaining in the first half. Baskets by Heather Tetro and McSwain extended the lead to 36-17 and Heather split a pair of free throws just before the end of the second quarter to give the Lady Raiders a commanding, 37-17 lead at the break.

Bailey Tetro scored the first five points of the third to make it a 42-17 game. Maddox hit a pair of free throws with around a minute to play in the period to help stretch the lead to 48-23 and Bailey Tetro drained another three just before the end of the third quarter to put Good Hope in front 51-23 at the start of the fourth.

A pair of McSwain baskets made it a 55-26 game and Jordan Sanders and Lucie Adams came off the bench to score a pair of buckets and cap an impressive, 59-29 victory for the Lady Raiders.

Bailey Tetro led Good Hope with 20 points in the win. McSwain added 16 points, Heather Tetro finished with nine points and five assists and Johnson (eight rebounds) and Maddox (seven rebounds) each scored five points.

The Lady Raiders enjoyed a great send off from their fans before they hit the road Tuesday morning and Aby believes the more the community shows its support for the Lady Raiders, the harder they want to play for them.

“We were at Good Hope this morning doing a walk through all the schools and we saw kids of all ages making signs, drawing the girls’ pictures, each varsity girl and manager got a huge laundry basket just full of goodies and the community support is just so awesome. It’s not just us out there chasing this dream, it feels like its everybody in the community. You look up there and it’s just a red sea. I feel like half of Good Hope was out there,” Aby joked. “These girls come out with a ball of energy to start the game and I have to give credit where credit is due, a lot of that comes from the fans. They just feed off the atmosphere and when they look up and they have a student section going crazy and it’s just a sea of red, these girls want to play hard for them.”

The Lady Raiders will be back at Legacy Arena Friday at 4 p.m. to face T.R. Miller in this year’s 4A State Championship Game.

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