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Lady Bulldogs eliminated

Missed opportunities and a mountain of fouls cost the Andalusia Lady Bulldogs a win in the Class 4A Southwest Regional Championship Game Saturday in Mobile.

Andalusia (21-7) fell to the Demopolis Lady Tigers by a final score of 42-37 after holding a 29-27 lead entering the fourth period.

Demopolis (25-4) outscored Andalusia 15-8 in the fourth quarter and it could have been worse if the Lady Tigers had made more of their free-throw attempts. The Lady Tigers made 12-of-25 free throws in the game and only 5-of-15 in the final four minutes of the contest.

Andalusia also shot 50 percent from the free-throw line in the game. The Lady Bulldogs just did not make as many trips to the charity stripe. Andalusia converted 3-of-6 free throws in the game.

The Lady Bulldogs found themselves in foul trouble early with five fouls to only one for Demopolis in the first half. Senior Ann Huff picked up two fouls in the first half and sat out the final three minutes.

In the second half, Andalusia senior Ashley Johnson picked up her second personal foul just one minute into the action. Andalusia point guard Tanesha Wright was whistled for three fouls in the third period. She was hit with her fourth foul with 2:17 left in the third quarter.

Foul trouble hurt the Lady Bulldogs, but Andalusia had a 29-27 lead going into the final quarter thanks to a bucket by Kathy Crittenden just before the horn sounded.

Huff was hit with her third personal foul less than a minute into the fourth period. Huff and Wright would both foul out of the game in the final stanza.

Demopolis started the final period hot scoring 8 consecutive points to take a 35-29 lead. The score went to 37-31 in favor of Demopolis when Gabrielle Essex scored two points on a lay-up and was fouled on the play. Essex canned the free throw to give the Lady Tigers a seven-point lead.

Fatigue seemed to set in on the Lady Tigers. Essex missed two shots on the next two trips down the floor as Andalusia cut into the lead trimming it to three points by a score of 38-35 with Apri Kilgore and Johnson making jumpers.

Andalusia trailed by three and had the ball after a Demopolis turnover with 1:45 left to play in regulation. The Lady Bulldogs had chances to take the lead thanks to poor free-throw shooting by the Lady Tigers, but were unable to rally.

The Lady Bulldogs had to foul the final two minutes of the game and the Lady Tigers made just 4-of-14 free throws leaving the door open. Andalusia, however,

only managed two points down the stretch when Johnson canned two free throws with 16 seconds left in the game to cut the Demopolis lead to three points by a score of 40-37.

Shawnese Armstead made 1-of-2 free throws with 13 seconds left to make it a two possession game for Andalusia by giving Demopolis a 41-37 lead.

Andalusia came down the court looking to score but turned the ball over. Demopolis guard Daphne Reid was fouled as quickly as possible and made 1-of-2 free throws with 7.9 seconds left in the game giving the Lady Tigers a 42-37 lead.

Reid made the first free throw and missed the second. The Andalusia players went after the rebound and it deflected off a Lady Bulldog out of bounds giving the ball back to the Lady Tigers.

Andalusia got the ball back via a five-second violation on the Lady Tigers. The Lady Bulldogs had the ball with 1 second left on the game clock and trailed by five points. Andalusia did not get off a shot before the horn with Demopolis securing a 42-37 win.

Ashley Johnson was the leading scorer for Andalusia with 14 points. Apri Kilgore added 8. Ann Huff, Jermecia McNeil and Tanesha Wright scored 4 points each. Kathy Crittenden had 2 points. April Daniels had 1 point.

Gabrielle Essex led Demopolis with 13 points.

Andalusia Head Coach Marshall Locke said the Lady Bulldogs hurt themselves.

"We are our own worst enemy," Locke said in a post-game interview. "We had opportunities and didn't capitalize.

"You have to capitalize on your opponents mistakes," he added.

Locke said the plan was to get the Lady Tigers in foul trouble and somehow it backfired.

"The game plan was to be aggressive and go after them and get them in foul trouble," Locke said.

Demopolis Head Coach Tony Pittman said he had his doubts whether or not his team would win due to the poor free-throw shooting from his players.

"I thought it was a hard-fought ball game," Pittman said. "Andalusia is a well-coached team. A five or six point lead is never safe with them."

Pittman was shocked after the game when he was told his team made just 4-of-14 attempts from the free throw line in the final two minutes.

"How in the world did we win?" he asked.

The members of the Girls Class 4A Southwest Regional All-Tournament Team are Andalusia's Apri Kilgore, Andalusia's Ashley Johnson, Bibb County's Rotesha Anderson, Thomasville's Kaneisha Grayson, Demopolis' Katerria Johnson. Demopolis junior Gabrielle Essex was named the MVP of the tournament.