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Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle falls in Final Four

| Tom Chappell
| Tom Chappell

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle must have seemed like a ghost town on March 2 as it seemed as almost the whole town made the hour-long track to the Birmingham Jefferson-Convention complex for the 94th annual AHSAA basketball state championships. The Hartselle Lady Tigers would be making their first appearance at the state finals since 2007 and they would face off with the Leflore Rattlers in the final four. It had been a long road for the Tigers to get here as they went through many of the pitfalls that a young team usually has to go through. However, Hartselle had really caught on fire in the later part of the season and proved it by going through both Athens and Austin in the northwest regionals to advance to Birmingham and they were eager to prove that they could do even more.

Early on, Hartselle struggled to get any offense going. The Rattlers started the game on an 11-0 run before the Tigers mustered any points. By the end of the first quarter, Leflore held a 13-4 lead over Hartselle.

Hartselle would try to claw their way back into the game in the second quarter. Kayla Key would start the quarter with a three pointer to cut the score to 13-7. However, Leflore would answer with back-to-back three pointers to extend the lead to 19-7. Moriah Taylor would then knock in her first three pointers as Anna Mathis and Mary Jane Wooley tacked on baskets to cut the lead to 21-14. Kayla Key would hit one more three pointer to cut the score to 23-17. Just as it seemed Hartselle was going to climb back into the game, Leflore would go on a 7-0 run to end the quarter and take a 30-17 lead into halftime.

As the second half started, Leflore continued to tack onto their lead. The Rattlers would extend their lead to 36-19. However, Hartselle wasn’t ready to give in just yet. Moriah Taylor would knock in 8 points to cut the lead to 40-27. Scores from Jordan Finn, Taylor and Mathis would cut the lead even further to 44-34 as the third quarter ended.

Hartselle would start the fourth quarter on a 6-2 run with scores from Finn and Taylor to cut the lead to 46-40. However, it would be the closest the Tigers would come as Leflore would extend their lead to 54-42 and Hartselle would run out of time for a comeback. Leflore would go on to win the game 58-50 and advance to the championship game.

Player of the game: Moriah Taylor. The freshmen star turned out an impressive performance in this game as she accounted for 24 points. There is no doubt that Taylor will be a key contributor to the Hartselle program for the next three years. Hartselle came up short in this game but the program has a very bright future, as they will return the bulk of their team next season.

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