“I think the kids were a little flat coming out,”Sylacauga head coach Derrick Crawford said. “We finally started playing a little defense there in the fourth quarter. My hat goes off to Coach Hop and her team. They did a fine job of preparing their kids for this ball game tonight. We will go back tomorrow and prepare. We advance and we move on. That is all we are trying to do in tournament play, advance and move on. So we gave ourself a chance to advance to the championship game and we will go to work for whoever we have to play between Winterboro and B.B.Comer.”
Munford got out to a 5-2 lead off a jumper by Victoria Mitchell. Shakayla Thomas sparked a 12-3 run to give the Lady Aggies a 16-7 lead. Thomas scored eight points during the run and assisted on a layup made by Kayla Dark. The reigning Class 5A Player of the Year went coast to coast for a layup to make it 10-7. She then scored on back to back putback to increase Sylacauga lead to 14-8.
TeAsia Cunningham’s put back cut the Sylacauga lead to 16-11 going to the second quarter.
Sylacauga opened the quarter on a 10-3 lead. Thomas hit back to back jumpers to increase their lead to 20-11. Tierra Dark hit back to back layup in transition to make it 26-12.
Munford fought their way back into the game by using the 3-point shot.
Ra’Aunna Caldwell hit back to back 3-pointers to cut the Lady Aggies lead to 28-20 with 35 seconds left in the half. Kedra Curtis nailed a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to 28-23.
Thomas hit a jumper right before half to give Sylacauga a 30-23 lead going into halftime.
In the second half, Munford continued to claw their way back into the game. Thomas continued to have it going in third quarter for Sylacauga. She scored six early points including a jumper to put the Lady Aggies ahead 36-27 with 3:44 left in the quarter.
Curtis responded for Munford with a 3-pointer to cut the lead down to six, 36-30. On their next possession, the Lady Lions attacked the glass as they got four offensive rebounds, which turned into a Groce putback to cut the lead down to 36-32 with 2:34 left.
But their momentum was short lived as Thomas and the Lady Aggies turned up the intensity. Off a turnover, Thomas went down and scored a layup while being bumped. She missed the free throw, but Briasia Richardson was there for the offensive rebound and putback to increase Sylacauga’s lead to 41-32.
The Lady Aggies defense created another turnover, which turned in a layup by Thomas to push their lead back to double-digits, 43-32. Thomas scored 11 of her game high 43 points in the third quarter. The Lady Aggies took a 46-34 lead going into the final period.
“Munford did a great job,” Crawford said. “We attacked the basket like we wanted too. They got the opportunities and the capitalized when they got opportunities on the offensive end. Our Lady Aggies tonight did not capitalize when they had the opportunities.”
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Lions continued to try to get their way back into the game. Caldwell scored eight of her 18 points in the fourth quarter. But the Lady Lions just couldn’t contain Thomas as she scored 10 points in the final period including a layup to put the game out of reach, 56-44 with 1:30 left in the game. Her layup in the final seconds of the game gave Sylacauga a 62-48 victory.
“I was really proud the way my girls played hard the whole game,” Munford head coach Ann Hopkins. “I was disappointed that we had some mental mistakes that cost us. I really believe the turning point of the game was when neglected to rebound a free throw and had the putback. All the momentum shifted in Sylacauga’s favor. To me that is a mistake that our younger girls are making and we hope to correct that before the area tournament.