ALPHARETTA, Ga. — The first time Alpharetta and Johns Creek girls faced off this season, the Raiders slipped past in the final seconds with a win.
With Alpharetta in first place in the region and Johns Creek one game behind, their second and final matchup of the regular season was sure to be one of the most anticipated and most important games of the year.
Alpharetta got off to a hot start on its home court with junior Mary-Grace Durham setting the pace. The do-it-all forward posted 11 points in the first quarter, giving the Raiders an early 16-6 lead.
With Durham on the bench for most of the second quarter due to foul trouble, the Gladiators managed to narrow the deficit to five points at the half.
Johns Creek continued cutting into the Raiders’ lead in second half, and halfway through the third quarter, the Gladiators tied the game for the first time. The surge was short-lived, however.
After Johns Creek freshman Nylah Nuri tied the game at 33-33 with two free throws, Alpharetta quickly scored five points to make it a 38-33 game. The Raiders finished the third quarter leading 46-41.
In the fourth quarter, the Raiders managed to hold off the tiring Gladiators while building on their lead before the final buzzer rang.
Johns Creek junior Carson Tanguilig finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, and Nuri finished with 13 points.
The loss moves the Gladiators to 9-3 in region play and third in the region standings. Two of their three losses in region play came to Alpharetta, with the other coming to Pope which sits in fourth place in the region.
Durham posted a double-double in the victory for Alpharetta with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Sophomore guard Jodi Goins, whom head coach Rickey Jordan referred to as a “bulldog’ with a “nose for the ball,” also had 11 rebounds in addition to 17 points.
With the win over Johns Creek, the Raiders improve to 11-1 in region play under their first-year head coach and remain atop the region standings.
“It’s big,” Jordan said. “A lot of people in the region are playing really well right now. When it comes time for the region tournament, we want to finish No. 1 outright so we get a buy-in to the semifinals. And from there we’re going to play a tough region in the state playoffs, so we have to fight for position.”