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Girls Battle Into Overtime In South Final
February 25, 2013St. Lukes Episcopal School
Class 1A South girls final: Brantley 50, No. 1 St. Luke’s 49, OT (photos, video)
DOTHAN, Alabama – St. Luke’s four seniors set the tone for the school’s girls’ basketball team for years to come.
They won 28 games, reached No. 1 in the Class 1A rankings for the first time and made the South Regional final.
But it might take them a little while to get over Saturday’s heartbreaking 50-49 overtime loss to Brantley at the Dothan Civic Center.
The top-ranked Wildcats lost a 13-point lead in the second half, rallied to tie the game at the buzzer in regulation, then saw their last-second attempt at the end of overtime fail as time expired.
“This is history for St. Luke’s,” coach Christine Zoghby said. “Our four seniors are going out with a bang. We talked for four years about what this team will be remembered by. They’ll be remembered for a lot more than this. They have built a legacy, a foundation for this program for a longtime to come.
“That’s what they’ll be remembered by. We couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Brantley (23-6) advanced to the state semifinals where it will play Cedar Bluff at 3 p.m. Tuesday. St. Luke’s, which had its 24-game winning streak snapped, finished at 28-2. The Wildcats' only other loss came to Class 4A No. 2 UMS-Wright earlier this season.
After a slow first quarter for both teams Saturday, St. Luke’s took control of the game behind all-tournament players Jewel Hill and Brooke Pate. Pate hit three of her four three-pointers in the first half and finished with 12 points, while Hill led the Wildcats with 22 points and nine rebounds.
St. Luke’s led 20-16 at the half, extended it to 13 points late in the third quarter and held a 31-21 edge entering the fourth. Brantley, meanwhile, was struggling from the field. Through three quarters, the Bulldogs were 8-of-40 from the field overall and 1-of-15 from three-point range. In addition to that, leading scorer Amahni Upshaw failed to tally a single point.
“We were trying to deny 22 (Upshaw) the ball, and that worked for most of the game,” Zoghby said. “We did know that 14 (Raven Davis) could get hot. We saw what happened.”
Davis hit her first three at the end of the third quarter, then tacked on four more in the fourth quarter and overtime. She finished with 22 points after having just two in the first half and was voted the tournament MVP.
“The coach yelled at me,” she said. “He told me to get in the game. So I stopped crying and shot the ball.”
The other key player for Brantley was Erica Daniels. She scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter, sparking a 17-2 run that pushed the Bulldogs into the lead. Peyton Hill’s layup gave Brantley a 38-35 lead with 2:20 left.
“It’s my last year,” said Daniels, who finished with 10 points and nine rebounds. “It was my job to pick the team up the best I could. I just had to go hard every play.”
Despite losing the momentum, St. Luke’s stayed within striking distance and trailed just 41-39 when Davis hit one of two free throws with 5.8 seconds left in regulation. Hill raced the ball upcourt for the Wildcats. Her shot from the right side of the lane went off the rim, but Logan Smith put it back in at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
“We just told Jewel to push the ball to the rim, and that is what she did Zoghby said. “Logan was in the right place for the putback. We went into the next four minutes with a lot of excitement.”
Again, Brantley took control, however, and seemed to have the game under control. The Bulldogs led 50-49 with under 20 seconds left but missed four straight free throws to keep St. Luke’s alive. After the final free throw miss with 8.3 seconds left, Hill again drove the ball upcourt.
This time, she went into the lane on the left side and threw up an off-balance shot that wasn’t too close. There appeared to be some contact on the play, but officials let them play.
Time ran out in the scramble for the ball.
“I thought we should have been shooting free throws,” Zoghby said of the end of the game. “Everyone did what they were supposed to do on that play. With that little time, we wanted to get the ball to the rim, and we did that. It just didn’t go our way.”
Brantley outrebounded St. Luke’s 34-24 and had 15 offensive rebounds. The Bulldogs also went 12-of-21 from the free throw line. St. Luke’s was just 5-of-10.