TUNNEL HILL —
Anything but a 3-pointer, and Northwest Whitfield’s girls basketball team had the sub-region title clinched.
That was the Lady Bruins end-game strategy Saturday, and they made it work.
Northwest forced three missed 3-pointers in the final minute, allowed a harmless layup as the clock ticked to all zeros and won 47-46 at home against Heritage-Catoosa in the tightest game of the 7B-4A schedule for the Lady Bruins.
Ahead 47-44 with eight seconds left, Northwest’s defense surrounded the 3-point line and Jada Hubbard’s third 3-point attempt didn’t come close. Shelby Mullinax grabbed the rebound and converted a layup with 2.8 seconds left, but the clock continued running and the Lady Bruins celebrated the win without having to inbound the ball.
“They did what I said during timeouts,” Northwest coach Greg Brown said. “I knew the only thing that could beat us was a 3-pointer, and we guarded the 3-point line. We made them take tough 3s. I told them a layup is fine. It doesn’t hurt us right here.”
Northwest (19-3, 8-0) has two sub-region games left — against Ridgeland on Tuesday and Dalton on a date to be determined — but each team in the division has at least three losses. Last year, the Lady Bruins split a sub-region title with Dalton.
This also was the first time a sub-region team has stayed within 10 points the entire game against Northwest.
“I think that helped us grow up a lot as a team,” said post Peyton Maret, who scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Lady Bruins. “It helped us believe we can win (close games).”
Heritage led 24-19 in the closing moments of the second quarter, but Mallory Souther made a 3-pointer five seconds before halftime and started a game-changing 16-4 run for the Lady Bruins.
Trailing 26-24, Kerrigan King continued shooting well from Friday’s win against Southeast Whitfield and nailed a a 3-pointer at 6:46 to give the Lady Bruins their first lead since early in the second period. Halle Ford put Northwest ahead 32-28 with a 3-pointer of her own, and King’s second conversion in the quarter from beyond the arc gave Northwest a seven-point lead, 35-28, it wouldn’t give up.
King, who made four 3-pointers on Friday and scored 14 points, made as many from long range against Heritage and led Northwest with 12 points. Halle Ford added 10 points, six assists and six steals.
“That was the key for us — just get the lead,” Brown said. “Once we got it, we never gave it back. (King) played well. She hit some big shots. She’s very capable of hitting those big shots but she hasn’t done it in a meaningful ball game.”
Heritage (17-5, 5-3) trimmed the deficit to 40-38 early in the fourth quarter, but a 3-point play from Maret once again pushed Northwest ahead by five with around five minutes left. The Lady Bruins led 46-41 entering the final two minutes but had three straight possessions end in turnovers. The Lady Generals couldn’t capitalize, making only 1-of-4 free throws and missing a potential game-tying jumper in the last minute. Mary Kate Allen grabbed the rebound for Northwest, which led 46-44 at the time, and Ford made 1-of-2 free throws to put the Lady Bruins ahead by three and force the end-game 3-point attempts.
“If you miss free throws in crucial situations, it usually costs you the game,” Heritage coach Eddie Bryant said. “We felt we were as good as them today.”
In the first time playing Heritage, Northwest won 42-32, the Lady Bruins’ closest sub-region win before Saturday. They could face a third time in the Region 7-4A tournament, which starts next Saturday.
“If we saw them again, it could be for a region championship,” Bryant said. “Even if it’s just the (semifinals), I’d like to play them again. They’re a good ball team, but we missed some key free throws and were still right there.”
• Northwest boys 55, Heritage-Catoosa 50: Once again, the Bruins (12-10, 6-2) rallied and stunned the Generals for a big sub-region win.
Trailing by three in the final two minutes, Northwest ended the game with an 8-0 run from good defense, turnovers and fast-break conversions. Caleb Storey led the team with 16 points, 13 coming in the second half after Heritage built a 23-16 lead at halftime. Caleb Branson added nine.
Northwest had a big third quarter, scoring 24 points and holding a 40-39 lead entering the last period.
“We didn’t hit any 3’s in the fourth quarter,” Northwest coach Ryan Richards said.
Northwest trailed by seven in the final minutes when the two teams played earlier this month but rallied to tie the game and win in overtime.
Andy Whisenant and Cyrus Addison each scored seven for Northwest, which has received defensive help off the bench from Clay Phillips.
“He has been a shot in the arm for us with how he’s been playing defense,” Richards said.
• Southeast Whitfield girls 55, Coahulla Creek 49: The Lady Raiders (14-8) trailed by 10, 22-12, at halftime but outscored the Lady Colts (6-15) 26-7 in the third quarter.
“We can make some shots,” Southeast coach Michael Durham said. “We played pretty good defense. Maddie got hot and so did Crickett in the third quarter.”
The third period was the only one Southeast won. The teams were tied 7-7 after the first quarter.
“A lot of times we put three great quarters together and have one bad one,” Coahulla Creek coach Ryan Long said. “I don’t know what the answer is. ... At some point, we have to come out fired up and ready to play the second half.”
Southeast’s Maddie Pearson led all players with 18 points. Crickett Wyatt helped her with nine points. Sydney Storey had 15 points for the Lady Colts. Bethany Goodwin had 14 points. Nikki Ross had a double-double effort with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
• Southeast boys 73, Coahulla Creek 46: Rhett Harper was one assist away from a triple-double senior night. He scored 21 points, 10 steals, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Southeast (6-16) led 15-13 when the first quarter closed but pulled away in the second quarter and led 35-19 at halftime.
“We made some adjustments on defense,” Raiders coach James Case said, “and it really paid off.”
Case added Harper, a senior, played his “best game” this season and led four other seniors — Cole Gillean, Austin Purkey, Nick Stuard and Hunter Young, all who scored in the lopsided win.
Tyler Phillips scored 12 points to lead the Colts, who also saw Dee McCord score 10 points. Coahulla Creek drops to 8-13 this season.
“They put on a clinic in hustling and playing hard,” Coahulla Creek coach Matthew Queener said. “I wish anyone who likes basketball could’ve been there because Southeast played aggressive and physical.”
• Murray County girls 36, Coosa 28: Caitlyn Sims led the Lady Indians (8-15, 5-8 Region 7-2A) with 15 points.
Murray County, which hadn’t practices or played since Monday due to inclement weather, led the entire game. The Lady Indians pushed a 17-14 halftime edge to 28-19 when the third quarter closed.
“It was the sloppiest ball game ever,” Murray County coach Michael Hill said. “With four days off because of the snow, neither team could find the bucket.”
McKenzie Carroll and Alex Johnson each scored seven for Murray County.
• Coosa boys 62, Murray County 30: The Indians (2-19, 2-11 Region 7-2A) trailed 13-9 when the first quarter ended but fell behind by 21, 38-17, at halftime.
“I thought we played hard,” Murray County coach Greg Linder said. “Midway through the second quarter, they went on a spurt until halftime.”
Cesar Romero scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the Indians. Despite playing with foul trouble in the first half, Linder said Romero, “played a very good game.”
• Chattooga boys 86, Morris Innovative 46: Russell Burse’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first quarter was the best highlight for the Tigers, who remain winless through 23 games and 14 Region 7-2A games.
Marquis Perry led Morris Innovative with 19 points, and Justin Scott added nine. Chattooga led 44-23 at halftime.
“We played better than last night,” Tigers coach Doug Peters said, referring to an 88-18 loss to Calhoun. “It still wasn’t good enough.”
• Southwest Atlanta Christian girls 64, Christian Heritage 36: Sarah Massengale had 21 points for the Lady Lions, who fell to 3-19 overall and 1-9 in Sub-region 6A-A play. Drew Tipton added six. Jordan Suddath led with nine rebounds.
• Southeast JV boys 61, Coahulla Creek 48: Drake Amos scored 10 points. Cristian Antillon scored 15 points. Keaton McCutchen led the Raiders (13-5) with 17 points.
• Coahulla Creek ended its regular season with a sweep at Dalton High’s pool against Heritage, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Ringgold and Southeast Whitfield.
The Coahulla Creek boys scored 338 points, besting Ringgold’s 151, Heritage’s 121, Southeast’s 81 and LFO’s 22. Coahulla Creek’s girls scored 312 points with Southeast finishing second with 81, followed by Heritage (62), Ringgold (53) and LFO (18).
For the Coahulla Creek boys, the 400-yard freestyle relay team of Bryson King, Macavan Kalafut, Eason Langford and Alex Jarjoura won in 4 minutes, 46.68 seconds. King (200 freestyle, 2:47.89), Jarjoura (50 freestyle, 25.02) and Jake Mathis (1-meter diving, 178.40) were the team’s other winners.
For the girls, the 200 medley relay team of Alex Tate, Madison Zerbe, Grecia Torres, Taylor Graham won in 2:42.06. Other winners for the Lady Colts were Sami Newsome (200 freestyle, 3:01.31; 500 freestyle. 8:13.87), Lilliana Richardson (200 individual medley, 3:27.53; 100 butterfly 1:34.73), the 200 freestyle relay team (Erin Harden, Abbi Tate, Alex Tate, Graham; 2:08.15) and 400 freestyle relay (Abbi Tate, Haley Stennett, Harden, Graham; 4:49.60).