The victory also avenged a 49-46 loss to Griffin on Jan. 11 as Spalding (11-10 overall, 5-8 subregion) snapped a two-game losing streak which started with a 56-51 loss to then co-second place Riverdale on Tuesday. Griffin (10-12, 7-6), meanwhile, has now lost three of its last four to fall to third place with two games left to play.
Just like the first game this season between Spalding and Griffin — which stood tied with :35 left before Spalding grabbed the lead on a free throw by Shaquoria Reid with :34.6 and Griffin took it for good on a pair of free throws by Xandria Hosely with :25 left — Saturday's game was another see-saw affair.
Spalding, which was further led by Grenishia Daniel with (12 points) and Veronica Anderson (7), took as much as a 17-10 lead on a shot by Daniel with 1:51 left to play in the first quarter.
Griffin, which was led by Shacoria Jones (17 points) and Victoria Middlebrooks (10) and Ashton Elliott (7), scored on a three-point shot by Alexis Roberts and a pair of free throws by Elliott to cut Spalding's lead to 17-15 by the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Bears then could only watch as Griffin went on a run that culminated with Daniel making a layup to give Spalding a 10-point lead with 4:24 left in the second quarter and Cotton making a jump shot with just under four minutes to play in the half to give the Lady Jags a 12-point lead.
Griffin, however, raced back to get within two, 32-30, on a layup by Chelsea Prather 10 seconds before the half. The Lady Bears continued their torrid pace as Jones hit a three-point shot with 6:48 left in the third to get GHS within one of the lead, 34-33, before Hosely made a shot tie tie the game, 40-all, with 2:34 left in the third.
Middlebrooks then made a running jumper with :47 left in the third and a layup with :18 left to send Griffin into the fourth quarter clinging to a 44-43 lead.
Griffin managed only four points in the fourth quarter — a pair of free throws by Jones and a basket by Hosely, as it was forced to start fouling after Daniel and Cotton made baskets in the early going to give Spalding 47-44 lead with 5:17 left to play.
Spalding responded admirably, making 8 of 10 free throws between the 4:29 and 3:39 marks to extend their lead to nine (Cotton was 5 of 6, Jasmine Holland was 2 of 2 and Anderson was 1 of 2), 53-44, before Cotton made a layup with 1:26 left to extend the lead to 11, 57-46.
Hosely's basket came in the game's waning seconds to account for the final margin.
Spalding closes out the regular season with games Friday, Feb. 1 at home against fourth-place North Clayton and Saturday at next-to-last place Upson-Lee. Griffin, meanwhile, hosts second-place Riverdale on Friday (which will be Senior Night) and hosts fourth-place North Clayton next Tuesday.