ASHLAND • The semifinals of the Div. 3-1A Tournament was held last Wednesday, Feb 12 with a special performance from one Benton County star and an upset win that shook the landscape of the Class 1A girls playoffs bracket.
(G) Hickory Flat 62, Myrtle 51
The Lady Rebels stuck first with the game's first four points and held the lead throughout the game. Hickory Flat's senior sensation R'Daztiny Harris, who is the state's leading scorer, dominated the Lady Hawks with an impressive 35 points, 12 rebounds, seven steals and five assists.
“She is a special player,” said Hickory Flat head coach Brent Kuhl. “We had a starter out tonight and she picked up the slack and carried us to a win, just like she has all year. I'm glad she's on our team.”
Hickory Flat built a 16-7 lead a minute into the second period before Myrtle's Breanna Smith buried her first 3-pointer with 6:27 left to cut the lead back to six. From there, the Lady Rebels took control of the game with a 9-0 run with six points coming from Harris. Hickory Flat led 29-14 at halftime.
The Lady Rebels extended their lead to 20 by the end of the third quarter, 52-32, behind 14 points in the period from Harris and three 3-pointers from freshman Abby Tatum. Tatum nailed five 3-pointers in the win on her way to 17 points.
The Lady Hawks made a run in the fourth behind the hot shooting of Kinsley Gordon. Gordon hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the final quarter to cut the lead down to 15. The sophomore guard poured in 11 of her team-high 22 points in the fourth, helping Myrtle get within 11 with just under three minutes to play but it was too little, too late.
Hickory Flat (25-4) moves on to Friday's championship game against in-county rival Ashland. Myrtle (16-13) will also play a Union County foe, West Union, in the girls consolation game on Friday.
(G) Ashland 52, West Union 51
This game sent shockwaves across the landscape of Class 1A girls basketball. The Lady Blue Devils (9-17) pulled off the improbable upset over the Lady Eagles (20-10) on Wednesday night to secure their spot in Friday's championship game.
Ashland junior Sylena Smith was fouled with one tenth of a second remaining following a steal with the game tied at 51-51. Smith stepped up to the line and missed the first attempt but her second shot was nothing but net to clinch the monumental win.
“This is such a big win for us,” said Ashland head coach Michael Cathey. “West Union is a really good team that has beat us twice already. For us to comeback and win this one is big for our confidence moving forward.”
Ashland took control early in the first half, building a 10-point lead by the 5:13 mark of the second quarter following an 11-1 run, capped by a steal and layup from Smith. West Union's Eden Conlee erased the deficit with 12 of the Lady Eagles' next 13 points, including three makes from three-point range and a basket plus the foul with eight seconds left to send West Union to locker room down 26-25 at the half.
West Union went on a 13-2 run to flip the script in the third quarter, leading 38-30 with 3:07 on the clock. From there, Conlee was held scoreless with her team-high 22 points while dealing with foul trouble. Ashland was able to cut the lead down to four entering the fourth, 41-37.
The Lady Eagles put together a couple of baskets from Ella Kate Taylor and Annie Orman to piece together a seven-point lead with with 2:34 remaining. The duo of Smith along with Cherica Cheairs brought Ashland back. Down six, the two Lady Blue Devils combined for a 7-0 run to take a 51-50 lead with 32 seconds left. Orman was fouled and split a pair at the line with 30 seconds left to tie it again, setting up Smith's dramatic finish.
Cheairs led all scorers with 23 points, scoring 10 in the fourth. Smith pitched in 16 points. Orman added 18 points for the Lady Eagles.