ELITE EIGHT BOUND: Red Level dispatches Marengo by six in regional semi-finals

Published 1:00 pm Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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Nursing a late three-point lead, Red Level held on and squeaked by Marengo, 33-27, in the South 1A Girls Regional semi-finals at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum on Monday, Feb. 20.

RLS pushed its overall record to 15-6 and advanced to the South Regional title game Thursday, Feb. 23, against Elba (24-6) at 12:30 p.m. MHS saw its season come to an end at 16-9.

Two baskets from Elizabeth Cross and a free throw by Mariah Crowell opened up a quick 5-0 lead. Delayla Poelinitz trimmed the gap to 5-2 with a layup until Cross banked another field goal and converted a four-point play. Poelinitz had the final bucket of the period from either side as the score stood at 11-4 with eight minutes complete.

Cross went two-for-two at the line before Crowell pushed the lead to 14-4 with 5:34 until halftime. Consecutive layups by Kristen Blanco sliced the deficit back down to six. Cross earned three more, while Blanco made another basket for the Lady Panthers. The Lady Tigers carried a 17-12 lead into the break.

Blanco picked up where she left off with four points in the initial two minutes as Marengo trailed 17-16 at the 5:51 mark of the third. Crowell then came through in the clutch with nine straight points off four layups and a free throw. Poelinitz snapped the scoreless drought with a bucket, but Red Level took a 26-18 lead into the final period.

MHS refused to give in and once again crept closer. Blanco had the first four points of the fourth and set the score to 26-22 with 6:12 to play. Crowell knocked down a crucial jumper two minutes later and pushed the lead back to six. A free throw whittled the hole to 28-25 until Crowell sank three from the charity stripe and helped RLS stake a 31-25 lead with 22 seconds remaining. Poelinitz was able to make it a four-point game as Cross closed out the contest with a two-for-two showing at the line.

Cross led the scoring charge with 17 points for the Lady Tigers, while Crowell finished just behind at 16. Blanco took 17 in the loss, and Poelinitz had 10 for the Lady Panthers.