The Bremen High School girls' basketball team survived a defensive slugfest in the semifinal round of the 42nd Annual Hilburn-Patterson Haralson County Invitational Tournament on Thursday night, escaping with a 39-37 overtime victory against Troup.
With the win, the Lady Blue Devils (6-6) move into tonight's 6:30 title tilt against the host and region rival Rebelettes (8-0).
Trailing 33-31 in the final minute, senior forward Morgan Cashen scored Bremen's only field goal of the fourth quarter with 20 seconds remaining and the Lady Tigers (5-3) missed a last-second shot on the other end, extending the game an extra four minutes.
In the overtime period, Bremen went 6-of-8 from the free-throw line, including a 4-for-4 clip from guard Alyssa Taylor to seal the deal.
"Survive. That's exactly what we did. We're short a few players over the Christmas break and the ones that are here really pulled it together and survived," Bremen head coach Billy Pollard said. "I think we went scoreless there for what felt like forever. It was forever. We've still got to get better at the little things. Free throws and lay-ups and you walk away with that game. But they did what it took to win. They could have quit. They fought and made their free throws when it counted and started to go the hole finally."
The Lady Blue Devils had to hang their hat on the defensive side of the ball, holding an athletic Troup squad to just 11 points in the first half en route to a six-point lead at the break. Bremen was clinging to a 26-21 advantage entering the fourth quarter when the Lady Tigers clawed their way back to take the lead at 30-29 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Jedda Madden with 2:09 remaining in regulation.
From there, it was back and forth down to the wire, where Troup's final attempt was no good, forcing OT.
Despite not scoring a field goal in overtime, the Lady Blue Devils were able to prevail behind the solid defensive performance.
"Defense won that ballgame, for sure. We did not shoot well at all," Pollard said. "You're going to have those games and it's like I told them, 'If it's not falling, please attack the rim.' We did that and we got them in foul trouble."
Cashen led all scorers with 16 points and a boatload of rebounds, while Taylor added 12 and Ashlynn Hodges added seven for Bremen. Troup was led by Aundracia Riggins with eight points.
Bremen now has a quick turnaround for an even taller task in taking on the Rebelettes, who are seeking a third consecutive tournament title tonight.
"A big challenge, but the good thing is we're in the championship game. That's something we haven't done with this girls' program since I've been here," Pollard said. "Our first time in the championship game, so it's pretty cool. They get dressed the same way we do, one leg at a time. We have to go out there and battle. They have some really good players. We're just going to have to match up and play hard."