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Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle comeback upsets Austin

The Hartselle Lady Tigers defeated Austin 48-45 and advanced to state for the first time since 2007. | Caleb Suggs
The Hartselle Lady Tigers defeated Austin 48-45 and advanced to state for the first time since 2007. | Caleb Suggs

Lady Tigers rally late to punch ticket to Birmingham

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

Fourth time is the charm. Usually the saying is third time is the charm but the Hartselle Lady Tigers were hoping they could change that when they traveled to Wallace State to take on the Austin Black Bears for the class 6a girl’s Northwest Regional finals. This would be the fourth meeting between the two schools’ this season and all the previous meetings had gone in favor of Austin. Hartselle had come close in all the meetings. In the first game, they lost to a buzzer beater in overtime and in their last meeting, they took the lead into the fourth quarter before Austin’s Tyra Johnson found the hot hand. Hartselle was riding on a huge wave of momentum coming into this game having just beat Athens, and they were hoping to use that momentum to lead them to a win.

Hartselle started the game fast as Moriah Taylor sank a three pointer a mere 10 seconds into the game. Anna Mathis would tack on to make the score 5-0 before Austin rushed back to tie the game 5-5. Hartselle would then extend their lead to 11-5,including 4 points from Lindsay Berry, which prompted a timeout from the Black Bears. Austin would use the timeout to jump-start a 5-0 run and cut the lead to 11-10 at the end of the first quarter.

Austin would take the lead to start the quarter at 13-11 before Jordan Finn tied the game at 13-13. Austin would then nail back-to-back three pointers to push the lead to 19-13 and then extend it to 21-13. Hartselle would come back to cut the score to 21-17 following scores from Berry and Mathis. Kayla Key would then nail a huge three pointer to cut the score to 21-20. Hartselle would take the lead 24-23 at halftime following two more scores from Berry and Stinson.

However, the tide of the game would make a switch in the third quarter. Austin started the quarter on a 9-0 run to take a 32-24 lead. Maggie Anderson would cut the lead to 32-26 but Austin would quickly extend it back to 36-26. Things were looking grim for the Tigers. They were shooting very poorly as they had only managed to scrounge up 3 points with just a few minutes left in the quarter, but they were not done just yet. Moriah Taylor would knock in 5 points, which was her first points since 7:40 of the first quarter, to end the third quarter as Austin held the lead 40-31.

Things would get exciting in the fourth quarter. Hartselle would start the quarter on an 8-1 run to cut the score to 41-39 with scores from Key, Finn and Taylor. At this point every one of the large amount of Hartselle faithful that had traveled to Wallace were on their feet as Hartselle tried to complete the comeback. Kayla Key would nail a three pointer to cut the score to 43-42. The game would become very intense in the final minute of the game, as there were three lead changes. Jordan Finn would make the game 44-43 giving Hartselle their first lead of the second half. Austin would take the lead back 45-44 but Lindsay Berry would take it right back with a score to make it 46-45. Austin would turn the ball over on their next possession and would be force to foul Hartselle. Taylor would knock in both free throws to make the score 48-45. Austin would miss the game tying shot and Hartselle would go on to win the game 48-45 and become the Northwest regional champions for class 6a girls. Hartselle also advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 2007.

After the game, Head coach Gary Orr and his players were very pleased with their team’s refusal to give up. “It was a hard fought battle and it came down to playing defense” Orr said “I told the girls after the third quarter that we needed to play tough defense and make quality shots and they did just that.” Freshmen guard Moriah Taylor would tack on to Orr’s statement. “We knew that we weren’t going to go down without a fight.” Lindsay Berry, who was the game’s MVP, was very confident going into the game. “I woke up this morning and I just felt like good things were going to happen” Berry said, “I just trusted in God and trusted my team and the rest took care of itself.”

Player of the game: Lindsay Berry. Berry took home the MVP of the game and it would be hard to argue otherwise. In a very scrappy defensive game, Berry had 10 points. However, it was also her play of defense and her ability to secure rebounds (8), which proved to be crucial in this game.

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