Swinny, Geoghegan lead AC over Simpson

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2005

BROOKHAVEN &8212; The gym may be named for her head coach, but Katie Anne Swinny could think of a hundred better places to be than here.

It&8217;s the John R. Gray gymnasium, and like many of her teammates, Swinny sure has a habit of finding the side, front or back of the rim as opposed to the bottom of the net. But when things go bad like that, Gray has a way to calming the situation.

He told her to believe in herself.

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After one exchange near the bench, Swinny quickly was smooth on a jumper that hit nothing but net and gave the Lady Rebels their first lead of the game. And it gave the team the boost it needed in a 37-31 comeback win over Simpson Academy in the Brookhaven Academy tournament.

The Lady Rebels will play Marvell Academy at 2:20 p.m. today.

&8220;I couldn&8217;t pay it to go in (at first),&8221; said Swinny, the team&8217;s best threat from the outside. &8220;Every game I shoot bad, Mr. Gray tells me to believe in myself. He told me to come over and said, &8216;Believe you can shoot.&8217; Just like that. It was good for me tonight.&8221;

The bad relationship goes back to last season when the Lady Rebels struggled in the first round against this same Simpson Academy team. Swinny was fresh off a strep throat, and the rest of the team had a game they&8217;d rather forget.

That was nearly the case for three quarters before the inside game found a rhythm and Swinny hit two jumpers from the outside to cap a 21-2 run in the fourth quarter.

&8220;She just had an off shooting night,&8221; Gray said. &8220;Maybe tomorrow will be better for her. She struggled in this gym last year in the state tournament. I just hope we can play better tomorrow. I was proud because they fought back and got a lead against a good basketball team.&8221;

Swinny&8217;s two buckets were big, but it was an inside presence with Mattie Geoghegan and Ariana DeLaSalle that may have opened the game up. The Lady Rebels had spent most of the game trying to do that but struggled against Simpson&8217;s tight half-court man.

Geoghegan, however, found a seam in the third quarter. She poured in 10 of her game-high 18 points in the fourth, including eight of the team&8217;s first 10 points to get back in the game.

&8220;We finally realized that (DeLaSalle) had a really small girl on her,&8221; Geoghegan said. &8220;We had to take advantage of the little girl on her. Ariana was just fabulous. At the beginning, we didn&8217;t do any of that. Toward the end we got Katie Anne some shots. When she gets on a roll, it&8217;s hard to stop us.&8221;

It was tough for three quarters against Simpson&8217;s half-court man, and the Lady Cougars led 29-16 heading into the fourth quarter. Geoghegan hit a bucket driving the lane, and she later hit a bucket while getting fouled to cut it to 29-26.

Geoghegan missed the free throw, but DeLaSalle got the rebound and put it back in four seconds later to cut the deficit to 29-28.

&8220;You&8217;re talking about a Christmas break &8212; it took all our energy,&8221; Gray said. &8220;They finally got some things going in the fourth quarter. What I finally convinced them of was they were backing all the way in the lane with their point guard and playing three across the back. We got them back side one on one.&8221;

The Lady Cougars pulled their point guard off the perimeter on defense and let AC point guard Brittany Gamberi take the open shots.It worked when Swinny wasn&8217;t hitting her shots, and they took their chances with a point guard who was fresh off an illness.

On the other end, however, the Lady Rebels stayed in in the game defensively and held Simpson&8217;s top player, post player Kate Hubbard, to only two points in the fourth.