Late rally keeps Lady Tigers season alive; Andalusia brings curtain down on Lady Eagles

Published 6:35 am Monday, February 12, 2007

By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS EDITOR
Top-seeded Andalusia and second-seeded T.R. Miller took vastly different paths on their collision course to the championship game of the Class 4A Area 2 Girls Tournament held at Andalusia Thursday.
Andalusia raced out to a 22-2 lead and never looked back on its way to a 55-30 win over fourth-seeded W.S. Neal. Meanwhile T.R. Miller needed a late fourth quarter surge to survive third-seeded Hillcrest-Evergreen 39-33.
Andalusia and T.R. Miller met for the championship Saturday night. The winner will host the Area 1 Tournament runner-up (Escambia County or Thomasville) Thursday in the sub-regional round, while the loser will travel to the Area 1 champion that same day.
T.R. Miller 39, Hillcrest 33
The Lady Tigers' third win of the season over Hillcrest was by far the hardest.
T.R. Miller (12-8) built a 20-11 halftime lead thanks to eight points from Kesha Peterson and six from Nakiya Smith only to see the Lady Jaguars storm back in the third quarter.
Hillcrest held T.R. Miller to just one field goal and only four total points on the defensive side. The Lady Jaguars also found their offensive touch, as they topped their entire first half output in the third quarter.
Hillcrest used a trio of buckets from Kaylen Thomas, two field goals by Kiara Ghee and a key three-point play by Charlotte Maye to go on a 15-4 run and grab a 26-24 lead.
A three-pointer by Peterson 18 seconds into the fourth quarter put the Lady Tigers back in front 27-26, but a basket by Thomas with 5:15 left gave the Lady Jaguars a 28-27 lead.
Hillcrest held that lead until there were four minutes left when a basket by Catherine Green put T.R. Miller back in front 29-28.
This time the Lady Tigers never relinquished the lead. A fastbreak bucket by Smith and two free throws by Green over the next three minutes stretched the lead to 33-28.
Two free throws by Green and Peterson in the final 30 seconds sealed the win.
Free throws turned out to be one of the Lady Tigers' best friends down the stretch. T.R. Miller hit just three of eight charity tosses through the first three quarters, but six of nine in the fourth quarter.
At Andalusia
Hillcrest 6 5 15 7 - 33
T.R. Miller 9 11 4 15 - 39
HILLCREST (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Thomas 7-0-3-17; Kyser 1-1-0-5; Ghee 2-0-0-4; Maye 1-0-1-3; Montgomery 1-0-0-2; Floyd 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 12-1-6-33)
T.R. MILLER (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Peterson 2-2-5-15; Green 2-0-4-8; Smith 4-0-0-8; Grice 2-0-0-4; Boley 2-0-0-4 (Totals: 12-2-9-39)
Andalusia 55, W.S. Neal 30
The Lady Bulldogs, who beat W.S. Neal 66-25 and 66-11 in two regular season meetings, picked up where they left off Thursday when they stormed out to a 22-2 lead through one quarter and a 37-9 halftime gap.
Andalusia forced W.S. Neal into 15 first half turnovers, 12 of which came in the first quarter when the Lady Bulldogs applied a full-court press. The Lady Blue Eagles hit just one of 18 first half shots.
When Andalusia was not getting points in transition, it was getting them from 6-2 sophomore Blanche Alverson, who clipped the nets for 13 first half points. Nine of those came in the second quarter and seven of them came in succession for Andalusia.
The Lady Bulldogs stretched their lead to a game-high bulge of 43-11 on a fastbreak bucket by Anjelica White thee minutes into the second half.
While the outcome had long since been decided, sophomore Katie Elliott provided some late highlights for W.S. Neal when she buried five three-pointers over the final nine minutes. Elliott had 17 of her career-high 19 points in the second half.
At Andalusia
W.S. Neal 2 7 13 8 - 30
Andalusia 22 15 10 8 - 55
W.S. NEAL (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Elliott 1-5-2-19; Matthews 1-0-3-5; Thomas 2-0-0-4; Folmar 0-0-2-2 (Totals: 4-5-7-30)
ANDALUSIA (2FG-3FG-FT-TP) Alverson 6-1-0-15; Curry 4-0-4-12; White 3-0-0-6; Carlson 2-0-2-6; Kelly 2-0-0-4; Holmes 2-0-0-4; Anderson 1-0-0-2; W. Leslie 1-0-0-2; Pryor 1-0-0-2; Lawrence 1-0-0-2 (Totals: 23-1-6-55)