Ringgold Tigers

In Tuesday night's semifinals against upset-minded Saddle Ridge, the Ringgold Lady Tigers were in serious danger of seeing their run to the NGAC championship go up in smoke as the Blue-and-White found itself trailing 27-14 at halftime.

However, Ringgold refused to throw in the towel, battling back to send the game into overtime before going on to claim a 42-37 win.

So when the Lady Tigers found themselves in a somewhat familiar position in the title game two nights later, they once again refused to let their dreams die.

Down by nine points with just over two minutes left in the third quarter against Dade County, Ringgold dug in deep and came storming back to win the tournament title, 32-27, at Trion Middle School.

"I was concerned," head coach Abbi Baker admitted. "But the thing about this team is that they don't ever quit. They just work hard every day at practice and during every game."

The game was a tight one in the first half with neither team able to get out to more than a three-point lead. There were six lead changes and three ties before the Lady Wolverines were able to forge an 18-15 lead at the break.

After scoring the final four points of the first half, Dade would score the first six points in the second half. Stella Henry would connect on a jumper in the paint with 3:03 left in the third period to stake her team to its biggest lead of the night, 24-15.

But Ringgold, who missed seven straight free throws in the third period and who hadn't scored a single point since a Taylor Layne 3-pointer with 1:28 left in the first half, suddenly began to find its range.

Addi Broome broke the long dry spell with a 3-pointer from the wing and followed up with another bucket 34 seconds later. Baileigh Pitts got into the act with a three of her own with 40 ticks left in the period as the 8-0 run would pull the Lady Tigers to within 24-23 as the fourth quarter got underway.

The Lady Tigers would miss four more free throw attempts in the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter, but Pitts would finally connect from the charity stripe and Broome would swish two straight free tosses just 16 seconds later. Broome would add two more points on a 6-foot second-chance jumper and Layne's offensive put-back with 4:19 to play would cap a 15-0 run and give Ringgold a 30-24 lead.

Dade County, mired in its own six-minute scoreless drought, finally got back on the board with three points from Claire Mullins. But the Lady Tigers would work 1:30 off the clock before Sydney Cantrell drove the lane and fed Drew Burke with a nice assist on what would be the final two points of the night with 1:18 remaining.

Layne would then help seal the victory with a big steal in the final minute before the bench erupted in celebration on the court after the final horn sounded.

"We just never quit," added Baker, whose team also claimed a regular season division title en route to an unbeaten record in league play. "They work together and play as a family. From the beginning of the season, we had a goal of putting up two (championship) banners in the gym and we weren't going to be satisfied with anything less."

Broome had a team-high 12 points for Ringgold to go with five rebounds, two blocks and two steals, while Pitts - later named the tournament's Most Valuable Player - had 11 points in the win. She also finished with a team-best nine boards. Cantrell collected four rebounds and two steals, while Burke added four rebounds and a steal.

Mullins had nine points to pace the Lady Wolverines, while Olivia Tierce had six points. Kami Counts added five points and grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds. Henry also had five points and collected three steals.

"It's just amazing," Baker continued. "I'm just super proud of the girls. They're the ones did this. It's nothing that I or (assistant) Coach (Summer) Garrison did. This is all about the girls. We had a lot of talent, we used it and got the most out of them."