GRIFFITH | Shanika Thornton has dropped nearly 10 pounds with illness recently, and in her basketball games for Gavit she can’t hide or rest.
She’s been the team’s leading scorer most of the season, and even though she was exhausted at times, she came through again Tuesday before the Gladiators held off a late rally from Hammond to win 26-21 in the opener of the Class 3A Griffith Sectional.
“I was nervous and didn’t know what to do about it,” Thornton said. “I sweated out some of whatever I had and just played the best I could.”
The sophomore guard had 13 points in Gavit’s first postseason win since 2010.
Hammond dressed just seven players, all freshmen and sophomores, and freshman Le’rona Shelby almost single-handedly gave the Wildcats the win.
Although Hammond never led, Shelby’s back-to-back buckets cut Gavit's lead 20-19 in the fourth quarter.
Myshaunique Loggins hadn’t played any of the first 27 minutes but came in to hit two free throws to pad the lead out to 22-19 and had four rebounds in the fourth quarter.
“She’s athletic and a good rebounder who’s good on her feet,” Gavit coach Ken Anderson said. “She gave us an athletic boost, and I thought she was the reason we hung on.”
Thornton hit three 3-pointers in the first three quarters to keep her team ahead.
In the final minute, Hammond was trying to find leading scorer Dartavia Beals (10 points, 3 steals, 2 assists) when Saraye Stringer (9 points, 8 rebounds) put back a miss on a fastbreak off a steal to put Gavit up 26-21 with 28 seconds to play.
Shelby had nine points and 15 rebounds, and she and Beals played with four fouls for most of the final period.
“I’m really proud of the girls because they made a good run and a good comeback,” Hammond coach George Williams said. “We’ve been out of a lot of our games, and when things become close and you haven’t had too many close games, it’s hard to hang on.”
The Gladiators (8-13) play Clark (7-13) at approximately 7:30 p.m. Friday.