There may not have been many people who believed the Adairsville Lady Tigers could actually reach their goal of playing in the state playoffs this season.
After all, the last time the Lady Tigers went to the state playoffs was in 1958, a scant 58 years ago.
Don’t look now, but Adairsville came from four points behind in the fourth quarter Thursday night to overpower North Murray, 47-41, and punch its ticket to what is a dream-come-true appearance for the team.
The Lady Tigers got a good start against their opponent, jumping out to an 11-4 lead after a quarter of play in the second round of the Region 6-AAA tournament. However North Murray responded with an 11-7 run in the second period to close to 18-15 at the half.
“Their shooting guard was able to get some penetration, and she caused us a lot of problems,” Lee Whitaker, Adairsville head coach, said. “She knocked down a couple of shots in the second quarter and got hot, and they kept it up in the third quarter.”
He said that shooting success made it difficult for Adairsville.
“The third quarter turned into kind of a grind for us,” he said, “but we were able to fight back. Emily Collum made two back-to-back 3-pointers and that got us back into the game. We were in kind of a stall, but that got us going and picked up our energy. I was proud of the way we came back.”
In the fourth quarter, Whitaker said, Chloe Powell stepped up for her teammates in big ways as well.
“Chloe scored 9 points in the fourth quarter, including going 4-for-4 at the foul line,” he said. “She just kind of took over and hit some big clutch shots.”
He said Adairsville also was able to get some key rebounds and some buckets from its transition game.
Whitaker said North Murray turned to its pressure game in that final period as well but Powell would have none of it.
“When they tried to press, Chloe got us back to playing under control,” he said. “I was very proud of her.”
Whitaker credited the team’s hard work with bringing about its success, noting the Lady Tigers had set reaching state as a goal for this season.
He said it wasn’t easy making this dream come true.
“Reaching state was a big goal from the beginning of the season,” he said. “But at one point we were 1-9. We buckled down and stayed with it. They bought into what we asked them to do. They just buckled down after Christmas, and we were 12-5. We came together as a group and as a team. They never lost sight of their goal.”
Whitaker said he was very pleased with what the basketball team accomplished.
“They were able to reach this big goal, and it reinforces for them what they can do if they put the work into it,” the coach said.
The Lady Tigers, who were 13-14 after their victory against North Murray, will make their actual appearance in the state tournament next week.
Whitaker said where Adairsville plays in that first state game will be determined by the seeding they earn during continued play in the regional contest. He expects the state game to be played on Tuesday.
The Lady Tigers were to play games Friday and today to determine their actual seeding in the playoffs. Those games are being played at Ringgold.
Adairsville brought a 3-game winning streak into the tournament. It earned the regular season No. 5 seed, just behind North Murray, which grabbed the regular season No. 4 seed.
The two teams played twice during the regular season. North Murray won the first game by a 70-54 score on Dec. 4 at their place. Adairsville returned the favor by handing out a 47-42 defeat on Jan. 12 at the Lady Tiger’s gymnasium.
Adairsville defeated Gordon Central, 62-53, in the first round of the tournament.
Cartersville knocked out
The Cartersville girls basketball team came within one game of making the state playoffs.
Unfortunately for the Lady Canes, that one game came against Heritage, Catoosa Thursday night at Southeast Whitfield in the Region 7-AAAA tournament.
Cartersville lost by a score of 61-39 to Heritage, ending the Lady Canes’ season.
“We played well the first half, but struggles from the free throw line kept us from keeping the game closer,” Cartersville head coach Condy Moore said of the game.
Cartersville led by a score of 14-13 after the first quarter. Monica Motuba scored six points in the period and Madison McKinney and Kaia Bolton each added a 3-pointer to take the lead after one period of play.
It was in the second quarter when Heritage would take control of the game. The Lady Canes trailed 32-23 entering halftime.
Cartersville shot 2-for-17 from the free throw line in the second half and 5-for-24 in the game.
Motuba finished with 11 points to lead the scoring for Cartersville.
The Lady Canes finish the season with a 6-20 record.