Straughn girls down Hillcrest at home for area title

Published 11:00 am Friday, February 10, 2023

Straughn made an early lead stand and captured the area title with a 51-38 win against Hillcrest-Evergreen in a hard-fought 3A Area 2 championship game Thursday, Feb. 9.

Senior Melonie Harris, right, drives to the basket for two points as Taliyah Jervis keeps up on defense. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

The Lady Tigers improved to 16-8 on the season and won their 11th straight game.

SHS took an early 3-0 lead before Arreonna Lopez scored the only basket for HHS in the opening period. Presley Bates followed with a jumper, and Melonie Harris extended the lead to 7-2 with a nifty drive to the hoop. The score was 9-2 with eight minutes complete. Blakeley Smith began the second with a long three. Bryleigh McBride then sank a basket and added a pair of free throws. Maddie Williamson knocked down a jumper before Keona Miller converted a field goal and cut the deficit to 18-7 at halftime.

The Lady Jaguars began the second half on a 7-0 run and crept closer. Aubrey Pittman gave the Lady Tigers some much-needed breathing room with six straight points and stretched the lead to 24-14. Miller followed with a three-point play, and Taliyah Jervis brought HHS within 24-22 after a three-of-four showing at the line. Bates then swished the net for two, while McBride made a layup and gave SHS a 28-22 lead after three.

Presley Bates, right, takes a shot for the Lady Tigers, while the Lady Jaguars’ Keona Miller defends. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Both teams came out firing on offense with a combined 39 points in the final period. Bates and Smith each made a bucket before Harris hit a free throw for a 33-24 lead. Miller sliced the gap to 33-27 until Bates drained a huge three-pointer for a 38-29 lead with 4:20 remaining in the game. Hillcrest responded back and pulled within five before two clutch baskets by Allyx Williamson gave Straughn a 44-33 lead at the 2:40 mark. Sonija Evans had a fast break layup in the final minute, but the Lady Jaguars could not solve the Lady Tigers’ successful free throw shooting down the stretch.

Bates and Smith were the top scorers for Straughn with 11 points each. Harris followed with eight, and A. Williamson added seven in the win. McBride and Pittman were next with six points apiece. Miller led Hillcrest with 14 points as Evans and Lopez both earned eight in the loss.

SHS will host Cottage Hill in the sub-regional round Monday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m.

In other action Thursday, Andalusia fell at Geneva, 60-38, in the 4A Area 3 championship. The Lady Bulldogs will travel to Montgomery for a sub-regional contest next week.