Hannah Burks shoots a left-handed layup in the second half of the Lady Tigers’ 50-46 win over Muscle Shoals. Enquirer photo by Jim Meadows

Lady Tigers moving to the Elite 8 with win over Muscle Shoals

The Hartselle Lady Tigers withstood Muscle Shoals’ fourth-quarter surge to win 50-46 and advance to the 6A Northwest Regional finals, where they will face top-ranked Hazel Green.

“I am proud of how the girls played against Muscle Shoals,” Hartselle coach Amber Deline said. “They took the Lasy Trojans’ best punch and countered for the win.

The Lady Tigers dominated most of the first quarter behind the play of Mary Frances Itsede, who finished with six points to help Hartselle build an 11-4 lead before Muscle Shoals closed with a 6-2 run to make the score 13-10 heading into the second quarter.

Hartselle scored the first five points of the second quarter to extend their lead to 18-10. The Lady Trojans then outscored the Lady Tigers 6-4 to cut the lead to six at 22-16. Anna Claire Gladden scored a basket right before the buzzer to put Hartselle up 24-16 heading into halftime.

Hannah Burks had 10 points at the break, while Itsede had eight points and nine rebounds.

After a Burks’ three-pointer to open the third, Muscle Shoals went on a 4-0 run to close to within six points. Gracie Hill ended the Lady Trojans’ run with a long three-pointer to put Hartselle up 30-21. She added another three to extend the lead to 33-22, the Lady Tigers’ largest lead of the game. Muscle Shoals outscored Hartselle 8-2 over the final couple of minutes of the quarter to make the score 35-30 heading into the final quarter.

The Lady Trojans continued their run from the third quarter by adding on another six points to take a 36-35 lead early in the fourth quarter, their first lead since leading 2-1 early in the first. Burks ended the Muscle Shoals run with a layup to put the Lady Tigers up 37-36. The teams exchanged baskets over the next few minutes, leaving the game tied 41-41 with 3:00 remaining. Hill hit a three-pointer with 2:42 remaining to put Hartselle up 44-41. The Lady Trojans tied the game at 44-44 with just over 2:00 remaining. After exchanging baskets in the next 30 seconds, the game was tied at 46-46. Anna Hampton Burroughs hit a layup with 1:02 left to give Hartselle a 48-46 lead. Ella Springer added two free throws to seal the 50-46 win.

Freshman Hannah Burks led Hartselle (20-6) with 17 points and four steals. Gracie Hill added 15 points, while Mary Itsede finished with a double-double, 12 points and 11 rebounds, along with three assists, three steals and three blocks.

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