Hartselle, Priceville girls win area titles
Clif Knight &Charles Prince, Hartselle Enquirer
The Hartselle Lady Tigers and the Priceville Lady Bulldogs captured area titles and the Danville Lady Hawks finished as area runners-up.
5A, Area 16
Muscle Shoals 44
The Lady Tigers reached the finals of the 5A, Area 16 tournament with their third win of the season over the Lady Trojans.
Hartselle raced to an 18-point halftime lead and was never challenged as they posted win No. 19 this season.
Lauren Drake paced Hartselle with 22 points, followed by Jessica Andrews with 18, Mary Virginia Reeves with 12, Kayla Orr and Lauren Dye with four each, while Anna Reeves scored two. Hartselle improved to 19-8 overall, while the Lady Trojans' season ended at 9-15.
Difference makers in basketball aren't always the high scorers in the game. They can impose their will on the contest with defense, with rebounding and with hustle.
In Saturday night's 5A, Area 16 championship game, Hartselle's Mary Virginia Reeves imposed her will and the Lady Tigers captured their first area title in five seasons with a 59-51 win over Russellville.
Reeves, who finished third in scoring for the Lady Tigers with 13 points, played big when her team needed her the most. After Lauren Drake went to the bench with three fouls with 6:24 left in the third period and her team trailing by three, Reeves stepped up to challenge of being Hartselle's inside presence.
After making one-of-two free throws, Reeves ripped a rebound from the hands of Golden Tigers' 6-foot-5 Quinetta Phillips on the next Russellville possession. The steal lead to two free throws for Hartselle.
Then, with 1:29 left in the period, Reeves scored on a put-back to cut the Russellville lead to six points, 41-35.
On the next Lady Tiger possession, she tossed a no-look touch pass from the foul line to Kayla Orr on the block under the basket for an easy lay up.
In the final period, she scored in the lane with 5:59 left, before she forced a walking violation by Russellville's Kayla Trapp. Later, a Reeves' steel led to a three-point basket by Lauren Dye breaking a 46-all tie with 3:33 to play.
Finally, with the game in hand, the last desperation shot bounced off the backboard and was fittingly pulled in by Hartselle's No. 24, Reeves. It was her fourth rebound of the final period.
She finished the night as the game's leading rebounder with nine, in addition to two steals, and two assists to go along with her 13 points.
Anna Reeves and Drake led the Lady Tigers with 15 points each, while Dye had eight, Jessica Andrews five, Orr two and Shauntee Smith scored one point.
The win improved the Hartselle record to 20-8, while Russellville slipped to 10-16.
2A, Area 14
The Lady Bulldogs reached the 20-win mark with a semi-final win over the Lady Falcons in the 2A, Area 14 tournament.
Priceville led by as many as 20 points in the opening half on their way to a third win in three tries against Catholic this season.
Stephanie Hardiman and Tiffany Smith paced the winners with 15 points each, while Abbie Harris added 11, Jessi Smith nine, Kristy Barker five, Adrianna Delatorre four, Emily Jenkins three, while Jessica Kennedy and Sumer Boyd scored two each.
Jenkins collected seven boards and Tiffany Smith six in addition to six steals.
Chalk up a record for Priceville's Lady Bulldogs. They became their school's first team in any sport to win an area championship Saturday night when they defeated Westminster Christian's Lady Wildcats, 49-35, in the finals of the 2A, Area 14 basketball tournament.
The win gave the Lady Bulldogs a 21-5 record on the season.
The loss was the Lady Wildcats' third of the season to the Lady Bulldogs, and dropped them to 15-10 on the season.
The Lady Bulldogs fell behind 3-6 early in the first period but recovered and appeared to have the game under control with a 19-13 halftime advantage. That turned out not to be the case, however.
The visitors rallied in the third period and whittled down Priceville's lead to three points at 34-31 by the end of the third period.
"We beat them twice in the regular season." said Lady Bulldogs head coach Stacy Lovett.
"But it's difficult to beat the same team three times in a season. I give them credit. They came to play."
Coach Lovett praised her players for doing what they needed to do to win.
"It was hard work and guts on their part," she pointed out.
"I'm proud for my girls. This makes them one step closer to Jacksonville State (Northeast Regional)," she added.
Jessi Smith, a freshman, led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring with 18 points.
She scored 13 in the second half and hit back-to-back three-point shots three minutes into the third period to give her team a 10-point advantage. Kristy Barker scored 11 points and Emily Jenkins added eight.
Carmen Vaughn led Westminster with 19 points.
Three Priceville players were named to the All-Tournament team.
They were Tiffany Smith, Most Valuable Player, Jessi Smith, Emily Jenkins and Kristi Barker. Katie Defoor and Andrea Tucker, both of Falkville, also made the team.
3A, Area 12
Good Hope 27
The Danville Lady Hawk defense smothered Good Hope's shooters all night as they whipped the Lady Raiders in the semi-finals of the 3A, Area 12 tournament.
Danville took a 14-4 lead into the second period of play, but Good Hope cut the margin to three points at the half.
The third period would prove to be the decisive one as Danville scored the first 15 points and took a 33-18 lead into the final period.
For the game, the Lady Hawks limited the Lady Raiders to eight-of-53 shooting.
"After the loss to Hatton, I think the girls were determined to play as hard as possible," Danville coach Robbie Smith said.
The Lady Hawks enjoyed a four-point halftime lead, but couldn't hold off the hot-shooting Lady Eagles it the second half.
Jessica Hazel scored a game-high 20 points for Danville, followed by Bethany Evans with 13, Lauren Simmons added six, Mallory Alred added five, Kristen Sparkman four, Magen Linderman three and Jessica Nichols scored one point.
Danville slipped to 12-13 and will travel in the sub-regional round of play.
5A, Area 14
The No. 6 ranked Lady Knights turned a three-point game into an easy win with a 41-28 run in the second half as they ended the Lady Patriots season in the semi-finals of the 5A, Area 14 tournament.
Nicole Hayes paced Brewer with 19 points, followed by Courtney Scott with 15, Andrea Crawford with 12, Anna Mooney with six, Heather Childers and Nicole Lavender with four each and Megan Hormel scored on one free throw.
The Lady Pats ended their season with a 16-11 record.