The girl squads of Liberty County High School and Bradwell Institute hit the basketball courts Friday night, battling for a chance to advance to the second round of state. However, when the dust settled, only one team was left standing while the other ended its season after blowing a 5-point lead in the final 30 seconds of play.
Lady Tigers 54,
Riverdale Lady Raiders 41
Within seconds of tip-off, the Lady Tigers stole the ball three times for a quick 6 points, and Lady Tiger Mariah Maternik hit a layup for an 8-0 lead. However, Rutland High School battled back, sinking back-to-back trey shots to close the gap by 2 points.
The Lady Tigers regained the lead and closed the half up by 13 points. Seandre Lee and Brytnii Speight hit double digits, scoring 19 and 10 points respectively.
"We did a really good job establishing our press," Lady Tiger coach Faye Baker said. "We got some quick turnovers to open up a lead. I think that help to get the jitters out. We played with a lot of energy and we played like we are capable of tonight. I was worried waiting to see if we were going to rebound from last Saturday’s loss (to Beach) but we send to have shaken that off. I was pleased with our effort and energy."
Baker said they were going to enjoy Friday’s win, but immediately get back to work for round two.
In a stunner, the Coffee County Lady Trojans were upset by Luella High School, which means the Lady Tigers will host the Lady Lions for round two Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
"These kids believe that they can win and I believe in them," Baker said. "I believe they can win too if they come out and execute. That is the key, it’s not really the opponent, it’s whether we execute or not."
Lady Panthers 49,
Rutland Lady Hurricanes 50
The Lady Panthers and the Lady Hurricanes played a close game at LCHS and with 30 seconds left in regulation, the home team held a 5-point lead, 48-43. The Lady Panthers increased their lead to 49-43 by hitting one from the line.
The Panthers had ample opportunities to extend the lead but missed free throws and allowed too many turnovers.
With 30 seconds left in the game, the Lady Hurricanes hit a layup followed immediately by a 3-point shot. They trailed the Lady Panthers by 1 point with a little more than 15.7 seconds to go.
The play clock was stopped with 5.9 when a Lady Panther fouled a Lady Hurricane player, who hit 2 of 2 to give her team a 1-point lead. The Lady Panthers had one last opportunity but could not control the ball long enough to try for a buzzer shot in the end. The Lady Hurricanes will advance to round two.
The Panther boys were set to play Woodland, Henry High School on Saturday night. Results from that game will be posted on the Web site.