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NORCROSS (GA) — Often when a team’s best player is injured, the roles change and the pieces are not in their normal places which usually results in noticeable struggles.
Against four-time defending champion McEachern, the Greater Atlanta Christian Lady Spartans didn’t seem to have that issue or miss a beat without Robyn Benton in a 61-50 home win on November 28.
Dominance in the paint by seniors MaryMartha Turner (17 points, seven rebounds) and Caria Reynolds (14 points, 16 boards) helped GAC build a double-digit lead before halftime and coast for most of the second half.
“I’m proud of them,” Greater Atlanta Christian coach Lady Grooms said. “The defense did it. Our best player, Robyn Benton, didn’t play tonight. She’s got a back issue so we came in worried about not having her but I said we just got to fight together and they fought.”
Owning just a 13-10 lead early in the second quarter, the Lady Spartans appeared to be on the verge of a back-and-forth battle with McEachern. But a wave of momentum came through and GAC rode it with 19 straight points.
Turner ignited the burst with a layup and Taylor Sutton (15 points) continued it with one of her four steals and a layup.
“Taylor had a great game,” said Reynolds, who is signed to play at Hofstra next season. “She knew what she had to do. She came in aggressive. She really helped us out by getting steals and going to the basket.”
Following baskets by Kennedi Williams (13 points, five assists) and Sutton, Turner and Reynolds worked the high-low to perfection when Turner bounced a pass from the elbow to Reynolds for a layup and 23-10 advantage.
“I knew coming into this game that I had to be physical,” Reynolds said. “Knowing Robyn was out, I knew I had a role to play. Me and MaryMartha had to go hard in the paint.”
This decisive run spilled over into the second half until Victoria Agyin (14 points) converted a three-point play with 6:22 left in the third for a 32-13 score.
The Lady Indians’ offense picked up from there but Turner scored seven consecutive points for GAC to keep the margin wide. Early in the fourth, McEachern got back within single digits (44-35) on a layup by Kemia Ward.
But Turner responded with a jumper at the 6:00 mark to extend the margin back to double digits where it remained the rest of the way.
“McEachern’s got a culture of winning and we want to get that here,” Grooms said.