Momentum swings can happen at any time in a basketball game. One minute a team can look like they are in total control, and the next it shifts to the other side.
Sonoraville carried the lead and the momentum to the locker room at the half on Saturday night in their Region 6-AAA Championship Game matchup against Haralson County, but the Lady Rebels snatched it from the host to start the third quarter and never gave it back to send the Lady Phoenix to a 65-55 defeat and a runner-up finish.
Sonoraville (18-8) led by 10 at the half after limiting Haralson County to single-digit points in the first and second quarter, but the Lady Rebels (25-2) made some big adjustments coming out for the third quarter and immediately went on a run to push themselves in front. After trailing 27-17 at the break, they started the third quarter on a 19-4 run to take a 36-31 lead.
Many of those points came from post Indiya Smith who scored 14 of her game-high 24 in the period as she was the beneficiary of some easy looks close to the basket off impressive passing from teammate Alexis Boykin. Haralson County led 38-34 at the end of the third as they outscored Sonoraville 21-7 total in the period. They closed things out from there with a 27-point fourth quarter, including going 12-of-19 from the free throw line.
Sonoraville coach Stephanie Caudell said Haralson County came out with a different approach in the second half and used it to perfection.
“(Haralson County) adjusted to what we were doing and turned the game around in the third quarter,” said Caudell. “Our defensive plan worked well in the first half. We wanted to help on (Boykin), and that was working for us. But they adjusted after halftime and executed well. They are tough to defend when, especially when (Smith) gets going. That gives them four really legit scorers. They are a veteran team led by several seniors, and they just took it to another level in the second half. They turned it on, and we kept fighting but couldn’t ever get back in front late in the game.”
Haralson County scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to build their lead to 43-34 and led by as many as 12 at multiple times during the final period. Sonoraville got some clutch buckets in the fourth and pulled within seven at 58-51 with 1:25 to play, but the Lady Rebels answered to shut the door with three converted free throws and a lay-up from Boykin.
“We went through a lull in the third quarter, and when they pushed the lead out some in the fourth our girls could’ve packed it in. It was frustrating for sure, but our girls continued to fight all the way through. There was still some question at the end when we cut the lead down to seven or eight a few times, but Haralson County made some big free throws for the nail in the coffin.”
Boykin, the Region 6-AAA Player of the Year scored 22 points for Haralson County to compliment Smith’s big night, and she her ability to drive and dish the ball to teammates was a key to her team’s championship win. Tori Causey was the third Lady Rebel scorer in double figures with 11.
Maliyah Parks was the leading scorer for Sonoraville with 17 points as she had 13 in the second half to help keep her team within striking distance. Abby Chambers added 13 points off the bench with a trio of 3-pointers, and Grace Darnell also finished in double figures with 10. Harleigh Chastain scored nine, and Alexa Geary contributed eight.
The Lady Phoenix fell to the No. 2 seed from 6-AAA with the loss and will host Cedar Grove on Friday at 6 p.m. in the first round of the Class AAA State Tournament.
Caudell said that despite her team falling a little short of their goal of winning a region title, she feels like they will have a new mindset and focus going into State next week.
“It was a tough loss, and our girls were definitely disappointed after the game,” said Caudell. “But I think we’ll come in here next week and be fired up. We’re excited about getting to host a game in the first round, and we’ll get prepared and see what we can do to try to advance and keep our season alive. We still have a pretty young group, and they have grown up a lot this season. It is always fun to get the chance to extend your season into the state tournament. We will get some extra practices and hopefully several more games to try to get better and end the season strong.”
In the region semis on Friday night:
Sonoraville girls 49, Coahulla Creek 35
The Sonoraville Lady Phoenix have relied on their defense all season. On Friday it was once again strong, and it helped bring them within one win of a region title.
The Lady Phoenix clamped down on Coahulla Creek in the early going of their Region 6-AAA Tournament semifinal to build a big lead and coast to a 49-35 victory and a spot in the championship game on Saturday.
Sonoraville (18-7) made everything difficult for the Lady Colts when they had the ball which translated into only four points in the first quarter and seven in the second quarter. The Lady Phoenix built a 26-11 lead going into the half and continued the momentum and defensive dominance in the third quarter, outscoring Coahulla Creek (12-13) 13-8 to all but put the game away and take a 39-19 lead into the fourth.
Sonoraville maintained a double-digit lead for the duration of the fourth quarter with Coahulla Creek never getting closer than 12.
Sonoraville coach Stephanie Caudell said her team executed the defensive gameplan they had set prior to the contest and never waivered after getting the lead early.
“We prepared for what they were going to do and had a plan for how we were going to defend them,” said Caudell. “The kids did exactly what we asked the to do, and the first half especially could’ve have gone any better. I’m really proud of the way we played the third three quarters to get that big lead. Our defensive effort tonight was huge in getting that win.”
Sonoraville’s Grace Darnell helped get her team off to a solid offensive start, scoring 11 of her 13 points in the first half and knocking down a trio of 3-pointers. Teammate Alexa Geary carried the torch from there, stepping up in the second half with nine of her team-leading 14 points. Maliyah Parks added eight points.
“Grace has been shooting it well especially during the subregion schedule,” said Caudell. “She has her confidence going and feels good taking those shots we need from her. I was proud of Alexa tonight. She wasn’t scoring it in the first half like she has gotten used to, and that can sometimes be tough for a freshman to stay in it and stay composed. But she came out and hit some tough shots in the second half. And Maliyah, she was just solid all game and continued to be consistent like she’s been all year.”
Coahulla Creek was led by Rachel Walker as she was the only Lady Colts scorer to reach double figures with 10. Ally Morrow added eight, and Mallory Poe scored six.
The victory moved Sonoraville into the region title game on Saturday night against Haralson County as they were looking for their second region crown in the last three seasons.