The last four-plus minutes made the coach worry, but the first 16 minutes did more than enough to give Wendell Lofton’s team a win.
Using a huge first-half run, the Hephzibah girls basketball team beat Dougherty 61-56 Tuesday night in the second round of the Georgia High School Association Class AAA state tournament. The win puts the Lady Rebels in the quarterfinals.
“That was the best first half,” Lofton said. “But the last four minutes and 41 seconds weren’t. That made us sweat.”
Trailing by eight points early in the second quarter, the Lady Rebels (19-7) went on a 16-0 run, with Tiffani Harrison and Daedae Jordan hitting back-to-back 3-pointers during the stretch.
However, turnover woes saw Hephzibah’s 17-point fourth-quarter lead cut to five.
Inside, the Lady Trojans were able to grab multiple offensive rebounds on single possessions, but Hephzibah turned away shots in bunches.
On one defensive trip, Shanice Williams blocked two shots before Harrison finished the fastbreak with a layup.
Harrison, a senior, didn’t expect to get another home game with the Lady Rebels a No. 3 seed. But with fourth-seeded Dougherty’s win against No. 1 seed Mary Persons, she got another chance to play on her home floor.
She made the most of the opportunity, scoring 18 of her game-high 28 points in the first half.
“We work hard,” Harrison said of her team. “We don’t want to go home.”
Harrison knocked down six 3-pointers in the game, with her last 3 closing the third quarter. She inbounded the ball and got the ball right back from Shashana Miller to deliver the buzzer-beater.
The shot gave the Lady Rebels a 46-33 lead, an advantage that was threatened in the fourth.
Most of Dougherty’s chances came on offensive rebounds or after turnovers, allowing the Lady Trojans to attempt 21 foul shots in the quarter.
Terrianna Martin hit seven of her eight attempts in the last quarter, but Dougherty clanked 21 of 36 free-throw attempts.