The last five ACAC girls basketball tournament championships belong to either Leo or Garrett.
The two advanced to the 2013 title game with semifinal wins Thursday at Memorial Coliseum. Leo defeated Adams Central 59-26. Garrett then topped Heritage 62-44.
The Lions and Railroaders will meet in the championship game at noon Saturday at the Coliseum.
“That’s who you expect,” Garrett coach Bob Lapadot said. “These two programs have been here a lot. … It will be a great game.”
The Railroaders moved on behind the one-two punch of Taylor Smith and Brandi Dawson. Smith had 22 points and 13 rebounds. Dawson had 15 points and 14 rebounds.
“Once we got the jitters out of the way, we executed pretty good,” Lapadot said. “We only had one player on this team who had ever played here before, so they were a little nervous. And Taylor, being a freshman, especially. But once she got in a little rhythm, and Becca Oliver did a great job, she’s our best post feeder and she just kept feeding her.
“You have to respect Brandi on the other side of the floor, so that leaves it open for Taylor to drop, step and score.”
Smith scored 11 points in the third quarter. The Railroaders outscored the Patriots 20-10 in the quarter.
“At the beginning I was kind of nervous, but at the beginning of the second quarter we all began to settle down and got used to it,” Smith said.
Keanna Gary had 19 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in the Lions’ win. Taylor Seiss also had 19 points.
“I just thought we played team basketball,” Leo coach Carrie Shappell said. “That’s something that we’ve talked about a lot this year because you have two big scorers like what we have. It’s easy to get caught up in just getting those two the ball. I thought we shot in rhythm.
“I thought all of them, no matter who was on the court, did a nice job of executing and being patient.”
Leo used a strong defensive effort in the second quarter to pull away. The Lions outscored the Jets 16-3 in the quarter. Adams Central’s only field goal of the quarter was a basket by Megan Salway at the 7:07 mark.
“Once they started hitting those outside shots, we locked down on their shooters pretty well,” Gary said. “They would try to drive, and underneath we were able to stop them.”
Gary made back-to-back layups to give the Lions a 24-16 lead with 3:08 left.
Seiss then hit consecutive three-pointers to stretch the lead to 30-16 with 1:49 to go.
“I love playing here. It’s a different atmosphere. It’s fun,” Seiss said. “I credit my teammates for getting me the ball and getting me open. I couldn’t do it without them.”
The wins set up the showdown.
“We feel like it’s the way it ought to be,” Lapadot said. “We also picture, we figure, we hope that we’re going to be here and we just assume Leo will be too.”