Lady Tigers beat Anniston 33-28 in Final Four, advance to state championship

Published 8:29 pm Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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BIRMINGHAM – Late in games, T.R. Miller’s Lady Tigers are just getting started.

The Lady Tigers, behind a solid defensive effort, made some key buckets in the fourth period and defeated Anniston 33-28 tonight in the AHSAA’s Class 4A Final Four at Legacy Arena.

Anniston trotted out to an early lead in the contest, taking a 9-2 advantage going into the second period. TRM trailed 13-6 at halftime, and then things turned around for the Brewton girls.

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TRM went on to outscore the Lady Bulldogs 10-6 in the third period, and 17-9 in the fourth. The Lady Tigers’ defense held AHS to just 21 percent from the field.

“It’s been a good ride with these Lady Tigers here,” TRM coach Ron Jackson, who is retiring at season’s end, said. “This is a small bunch, but they’ve got a big heart. They really lay it on the court. I couldn’t have prayed and asked for a better group of kids to work with.”

With the victory, the Lady Tigers advance to the state championship game this Friday, where they’ll face Good Hope at 4 p.m. Good Hope beat Prattville Christian 59-29 in the other semifinal.

During tonight’s contest, TRM went on a 13-0 run to take a lead. Natasia Reed dished in a free throw, and Bethany Simmons nailed a 3-pointer to give the Lady Tigers a 1-point advantage.

TRM’s Jadin Curry later added a couple of free throws, and Serenity Mitchell got a jumper to go for a 24-21 lead. Mitchell added a second jumper a short time later after a steal for a healthy margin.

Mitchell then made five big free throws despite a late Anniston surge to cut the game to three with 24 seconds to go.

On the 13-0 run, Jackson said what helped the girls was their stamina.

“Generally, what we usually do is we try to wear them down,” Jackson said. “We do all of our running before practice, and then we practice. Then, we’re dead tired. Hopefully, at the end of the game, we’ll be ready to go.”

TRM junior Meg Fountain contributed with seven points. She hit a 3-pointer early in the third period to cut the game to 19-13. Simmons backed her up with a 3-pointer of her own a short time later.

When asked what it feels like to make the championship game, Reed said it’s amazing.

Fountain said the team is ecstatic.

“Not only to do this for our team, but for coach Jack being his last year, it’s great,” Fountain said.

“We want to take the all the way,” Simmons added.

For the game, the Lady Tigers went 10-of-18 from the free throw line.

Anniston’s Serena Hardy led the Lady Bulldogs with eight points.

AHS girls basketball coach Eddie Bullock said TRM made a few more plays.

“Congratulations to T.R. Miller,” Bullock said. “They played hard. They played scrappy. The team that plays hard, deserves to win. I think they made a few more plays tonight. The ball just falls there sometimes.”

On the 13-0 run, Bullock said his team fell apart defensively.

“We missed assignments and they got some second shots,” he said. “One of the things we wanted to do was control the boards, and we ended up out rebounding them, but there were a few points we let the get with some offensive put backs.”

For Jackson, his final game coaching will be this Friday in the state title game.

The coach said he’s a bit ecstatic to be in the championship game because the girls can’t lose.

“To me, if we make it to the last game of the season, it’s a win all the way,” Jackson said. “We played in every single solitary game that’s offered this year. To do that by itself is a victory.”