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Repeat bid falls short

By Staff
Bob Jones knocks off Hartselle in Decatur Orthopaedic Clinic Classic final
Justin Schuver, Hartselle Enquirer
DECATUR – Hartselle's bid for a second straight Decatur Orthopaedic Clinic Classic championship came up just short Friday night at Decatur High School's Earl Morris Gymnasium as the Lady Tigers dropped the final game 63-57 to Bob Jones.
In earlier games at the tournament, Hartselle defeated J.O. Johnson 61-49 in the tournament semifinal, Carver-Montgomery 55-45 in the quarterfinal and Brainerd (Tenn.) 58-44 in the first round. The win over Carver was the first loss of the season for the Class 6A, No. 7-ranked Lady Wolverines.
Hartselle had three players named to the All-Tournament Team – Jessica Andrews, Lauren Drake and Mary Virginia Reeves.
Championship game:
Bob Jones 63, Hartselle 57
The Lady Tigers also saw an 11-game winning streak come to an end in a game that remained close to the last minute. Hartselle's Jessi Smith hit a three-pointer with 1:52 left to bring the Lady Tigers within 59-54, but Bob Jones' Kellie Cook was strong from the free-throw line, hitting four in a row to help the Lady Patriots stretch their lead and eventually take the victory.
Bob Jones, the No. 4-ranked team in Class 6A, improved to 18-3. Its losses have come to No. 3 Sparkman and No. 1 Jeff Davis (two losses). Hartselle, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 5A, dropped to 15-3.
"We just played toe-to-toe to a team that will compete for the Class 6A championship and I'm very proud of that effort," Hartselle coach Greg Adams said. "Our goal for the season has been just to get better each game, and even though we lost this one I think this game still helped us to get better."
Another thing Adams can be proud of is the fact his team was perfect from the free throw line – 14 of 14. Bob Jones shot just 32 percent from the free throw line (7 of 22), but the Lady Patriots' overall shooting percentage was better – Bob Jones shot 55 percent from the field (26 of 47) while Hartselle shot 36 percent (18 of 50).
The Lady Tigers fell behind early, trailing 34-22 at halftime, but then battled back by outscoring Bob Jones 19-13 in the third quarter to pull within six.
"If we could have handled (Bob Jones') trap in the first half as well as we handled it in the second half, then we wouldn't have been down by 12 at halftime," Adams said. "In the second half, we started letting our bigs handle the ball more and they were tall enough to see over (Bob Jones') traps.
"We practiced our press breaks, but it's really hard to simulate their kind of speed in practice."
Mary Virginia Reeves paced Hartselle offensively with 16 points and also led the team with nine rebounds. Jessi Smith finished with 12 points and Jessica Andrews and Lauren Drake added 11 each.
China Antoine scored 20 points to lead Bob Jones in the victory and Cook added 15 for the Lady Patriots.
Hartselle 61, J.O. Johnson 49
Earlier Friday afternoon, the Lady Tigers set up the championship final with a 12-point win over the Lady Jaguars.
Hartselle led 29-27 at halftime and by just three points after the third quarter but closed out the game by outscoring Johnson 21-12 in the final period. The Lady Tigers' defense held Johnson to just 33 percent from the field, while Hartselle shot 50 percent.
Jessica Andrews and Anna Reeves each scored 14 to lead the Lady Tigers, with most of those points coming from behind the three-point line. Andrews was 2-of-4 from the perimeter while Reeves finished 3-for-4.
Lauren Drake added a double-double performance for Hartselle, finishing with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
LaZandria Binford scored 11 to lead the Lady Jaguars, who fell to 14-7.
Hartselle 55, Carver-Montgomery 45
Hartselle coach Greg Adams isn't taking anything for granted just yet, but he is excited about his team's postseason prospects after the Lady Tigers gave Class 6A Carver-Montgomery its first loss of the season Dec. 28.
"Carver beat Ramsay earlier this season and Ramsay was the Class 5A champion last year," Adams said. "It's a big win for us over a very good team. I think our girls were a little more motivated because we knew that Carver hadn't lost a game yet this year."
Hartselle trailed Carver 43-41 after three quarters before coming up with a dominating fourth-quarter performance. The Lady Tigers not only scored 14 points in the final period, but they held Carver to just two points – both of those points coming from free throws.
"I told our girls that if we could keep it close we might be able to put the pressure on them near the end," Adams said. "With them having not lost, they weren't used to being in that situation and we were able to shift our defense a little and take advantage."
Hartselle's Jessica Andrews had the hot hand in the win, finishing 5-of-9 from behind the three-point line and leading all scorers with 17 points. Lauren Drake added 14 points and Mary Virginia Reeves finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
"It's nice when you've got somebody who can shoot the ball like she can," Adams said of Andrews' performance.
DeAngela Sword had 14 points to lead the Lady Wolverines, who fell to 12-1.
Hartselle 58, Brainerd (Tenn.) 44
The Lady Tigers opened the Classic with a solid start, dropping Brainerd for the second time this season. Hartselle also defeated Brainerd 48-43 at the Bradley Central Thanksgiving Tournament.
This time around, the Lady Tigers outscored Brainerd 21-9 in the third period to put the game away. Hartselle's defense held Brainerd to 30 percent shooting from the field, while Hartselle finished 47 percent. The Lady Tigers also hit seven three-pointers while Brainerd knocked down just one shot from the perimeter.
"Last time, they had one player who hit a lot of shots from the three-point line to hurt us and we did a much better job defending that this time," Adams said. "In the second half, we wanted to get our post players a little more space to move, and once we were able to do that we were able to get our offense really moving."
Lauren Drake finished with a game-high 20 points for the Lady Tigers, and also led the team with 14 rebounds. Mary Virginia Reeves and Jessica Andrews each scored 11 points.
Antornetta Ivey scored 13 points to lead Brainerd, which fell to 9-5.

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