Brewer earns first state tourney bid
By By Todd Thompson, Hartselle Enquirer
HANCEVILLE - Brewer senior Morgan Crawley isn’t the sort of player who seeks the limelight, but that’s just where the Lady Patriots’ guard found herself Friday morning in the Class 5A Northwest Regional championship game at Wallace State Community College.
Just minutes after helping the Lady Patriots wrap up a 60-49 victory over Fairfield at Tom Drake Coliseum, Crawley was a bloody mess and her teammates couldn’t help but sharing some good-natured giggles as coaches and trainers tried to clean up the player’s bloody nose suffered after the win.
The culprit? A celebrating Krista Hughes, who inadvertently pummeled Crawley after the game as the Lady Patriots celebrated the school’s first-ever trip to the state tournament by a girls’ basketball team.
Crawley hit 13 of 16 free throws for the Lady Patriots, who head to Birmingham to face Carver-Montgomery at 9 a.m. Friday in the state semifinals at the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center.
Emily Dabbs led Brewer with 17 points, while Kendra Jones finished with 11 points. Hughes added eight points, eight rebounds and three assists in the win.
Brewer improved to 30-2 overall with the win, the best season in Lady Patriots’ basketball history. The win also avenged a loss on the same court one year earlier to Wenonah in the 2008 regional finals.
But the first four minutes against Fairfield seemed to be anything but a team intent on contending for a state championship.
Fairfield scored the first six points of the game on a pair of Krista Simmons buckets and a short jumper from Jasmine Saxton. Brewer didn’t score its first points of the game until Hughes scored with 3:41 remaining in the first quarter.
Allen didn’t need to get a timeout to settle down the Lady Patriots. Fairfield head coach Tiffany Frederick did it for him.
Even with a perceived lack of intensity from Fairfield, the Brewer players were pretty impressed with the hounding style of defensive pressure.
Brewer scored eight of the next 10 points to tie the game at 8-8.
The Lady Patriots went on a 9-5 run that was highlighted by a pair of Dabbs buckets, including a 3-pointer, to take a 17-13 lead early in the second quarter.
Brewer never trailed again.
Crawley added a 3-pointer late in the quarter that helped Brewer establish a 23-17 advantage at the half.
“We knew that Brewer was going to come out shooting the 3-pointers and they knocked down two big 3s in the first half,” Frederick said. “Those 3-pointers really hurt us. They set the tone.”
Fairfield’s Jasmine Saxton led all scorers with 19 points, hitting seven of her 21 shots from the field. Krista Simmons added 11 points in the Lady Tigers’ loss.
But Fairfield couldn’t keep up with Brewer after hitting just eight of 22 free throw attempts in the game. Brewer had 25 points from the free throw line.
Fairfield’s shooting woes weren’t just limited to the free throw line, either. The Lady Tigers made just 31 percent of their shots from the field.
Fairfield’s offense was limited by the Lady Patriots’ pressure defense that forced 19 turnovers in the final.
Brewer’s lead grew to as much as 12 points in the third quarter with the help of a Dabbs 3-pointer and two straight baskets by Jones
Brewer closed out the win with a strong fourth quarter at the free throw line, hitting 16 straight free throws in the final three minutes of the game. The Lady Patriots finished 25 of 38 from the free throw line.
Fairfield scored 22 points - almost half of its total - in the fourth quarter. “Our intensity was better in the fourth quarter. It was too late though when you’re playing a good team like Brewer,” Frederick said.
Fairfield finished its season with a 19-14 record.