The Lady Eagles were able to gain second-chance scoring opportunities on six occasions in the first half.
Childersburg had a strong start to the second half with Kristade Swain getting a steal, which resulted in a Caneasha Calhoun pull-up jumper from the corner. Quintessa Calhoun made a 3-pointer and Cierra Swain made one of two free throws to cap a 6-0 run.
The team missed three free throws during the run, missing an opportunity to close the gap to two points. Instead they had to settle for a deficit of 24-19.
When asked about the size mismatch and how Childersburg responded in the second half, Johnson said, “We’re a pressing team. I tried to go with a younger girl. She did pretty good for us, Brittany Keith. She’s only a freshman, so she’ll be back. Sophomore Kristade Swain did a good job for us down there. We tried to go quick, tried to get some turnovers, but they outrebounded us 42-35. It’s tough; I knew coming in they are long. If you look at it in the first half, that hurt us. That definitely hurt us in the first half.”
The Lady Tigers opened the game with a 5-0 lead. Cierra Swain grabbed a loose ball and proceeded to drive inside for the first basket of the game. Shaquita Calhoun missed a 3-point shot but hustled to grab her own rebound and was fouled. She made one of two free throws. After Tariah Reynolds stripped the ball on defense and Caneasha Calhoun came up with the loose ball, Swain finished the play by using the backboard for two points.
However, Calera went on a 17-0 run, a hole that ultimately proved too difficult to overcome for Childersburg. Keyanna Gayden started the run with a rebound and put back. After Kalen Starks made one of two free throws, Gayden converted a 3-point play on another rebound and put back and ensuing free throw. A’kia Harris closed out the first quarter with a rebound and put back to give Calera a 12-5 lead. Breonna Caldwell opened the second quarter with a rebound and put back. After Calera gained an offensive rebound, Kalen Starks drew contact and made one of two free throws to cap the run, 17-5.
“In the first quarter, they outscored us 12-5,” Johnson said. “We went on a drought. We couldn’t get anything going; the same thing second quarter. They outscored us 12-8. When you get down like that, you just have to try to battle back. That’s how we’ve done all year. We just couldn’t score.”
Calera gained their largest advantage of the game when Tia McCarter hit a 3-pointer to make it 24-10. Brittany Keith made one of two free throws and had a rebound and put back to cut the Calera lead to 24-13 at the half.
Later in the third quarter, Calera went on an 8-2 run to push their lead to 32-21.
Keith had a rebound and put back to close out the third quarter and start a 7-0 run for Childersburg. Caneasha Calhoun opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer. The Childersburg defense got a turnover by forcing a five-second backcourt violation on Calera. On the ensuing offensive possession, Swain made a basket in the post to cut the Calera lead to 32-28.
Calera was able to push their lead to 39-31.
Tariah Reynolds made three of four free throws and Quintessa Calhoun made a key 3-pointer to cut the Calera lead to 41-37 with 2:30 left in the game.
But after Harris missed her second free throw for Calera, Childersburg was unable to get the rebound. Calera kicked it out to McCarter, who knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 44-37 with 1:41 left in the game.
“In the second half, toward the end when we got it close, they went to the free throw line and we didn’t get a good box out,” Johnson said. “They got that rebound. It was a big difference in the ball game.”
With 44.7 seconds, Caneasha Calhoun went to the free throw line for three shots. She made one of three to cut the lead to 48-39. At that point, Calera was able to wind the clock down for the win.
“We battled and I thought toward the end we had a chance, but you can’t go to the free throw line and shoot 12 for 24,” Johnson said. “We had a chance. We played hard, got back in it. Like I would tell the girls before we go out, we’ll make a run, they’ll make a run. How do you respond to that run? In the third quarter, we outscored them by two and we outscored them 18-17 in the fourth quarter, but it still came down to making free throws and they made more plays than we made toward the end.”
Johnson said the team’s three senior players will be missed.
“Cierra Swain had a big game; she played 29 minutes, had nine points, but she battled down there,” he said. “Caneasha Calhoun, she played 32 minutes; she had six, but she’s always going to play good defense. Tia Wells came in and she didn’t play much, but all year she’s always been a player off the bench, clapped for everybody all year, and in the time she did play, she had a big year for us. We’re going to miss them because they contributed to the program.”
Swain led the team with 14 rebounds. Tariah Reynolds led the team in scoring with 10 points, while Quintessa Calhoun finished the game with eight points, four steals, and three assists.
Childersburg finished the season with a 13-9 overall record.