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Brewer beats No. 1 Faith Academy

BIRMINGHAM – A 14-point advantage isn’t too big for No. 5 Brewer, even against No. 1 and unbeaten Faith Academy.

The Lady Patriots erased a 20-6 first quarter deficit, tied the game late and took advantage of its foul shooting down the stretch to beat the Lady Rams, advancing to the Class 5A State Championship against No. 8 Valley (26-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Brewer coach Ricky Allen attributes that toughness to their rugged North Alabama schedule.

“I would love to thank Cullman and Austin and Hartselle and all of the teams that are in our area,” Allen said. “We’ve been in this position before.

“We could have given up when we got down in the first quarter, but we didn’t quit. We never lost our composure. And we made 12 free throws down the stretch to get the lead.”

Senior Courtney Oldacre said the team never got down on themselves.

“We just believed in each other and that we could come back,” Oldacre said.

Brewer committed 14 first-half turnovers that led to 12 Faith Academy points. Ten of those points off turnovers came in the first quarter, when Faith Academy built a 20-6 lead.

But that’s when Brewer chipped away. The Lady Patriots went on a 7-0 run midway through the second quarter to cut the lead to 22-17. Camry Johnson hit a lay-up near the end of second quarter to take a 24-17 halftime lead.

Brewer’s Cheyenne McLemore hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 30-28 late in the third quarter. After a pair of free throws, Faith Academy held a 32-28 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Oldacre clipped that lead to a point on a 3-pointer in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. Savana Flack did the same two minutes later after a lay-up and free throw by Faith.

Then Northway posted up on the right block and hit a bank shot to give Brewer its first lead with 3:33 to play. Madeline Philpot hit a 3-pointer to give the Lady Rams the lead again.

Hannah Landers knotted it back up again with a jumper.

But that’s when the Faith Academy changed its strategy. Lady Ram coach Woodie Head decided to start fouling because his team only had one foul with two minutes to play.

However, that strategy led to the key play of the game. Faith was whistled for an intentional foul on Northway after an inbounds pass.

Northway hit both free throws and then moments later, Oldacre hit a pair to give Brewer a 4-point advantage.

“I was kind of surprised (that they started fouling),” Northway said. “That’s as far as I’ll go… But (free throws) are something we work every day in practice. We were just hoping we could get to shoot some free throws.”

And they did. Brewer hit all 12 free throws in the final moments to seal the win.

But Faith didn’t make it easy. They appeared to have a steal with 30 seconds to play and a three-point lead, but Rheagan Harvel knocked the ball into the forecourt.

It rolled under the Brewer basket, but Sydney Westry couldn’t control the ball. It went out of bounds and gave Brewer possession.

Oldacre and Northway put it away moments later to complete the upset of the top-ranked team. Head said this game was the only time Faith Academy trailed in the final two minutes of a game this year.

Northway led her team with 22 points and 9 rebounds including 8-for-9 on free throws. Oldacre also had 10 points while Flack finished with 7 points.

Landers had 4 points and 4 assists followed by McLemore with 3, Harvel with 2 and Catherine Drinkard with 2.

Faith Academy was led by Jasmine Rhodes with 22 points and 11 rebounds while Philpot had 10 points and 9 rebounds.