Closing out the regular season on Friday night, the Haralson County High School girls' basketball team assured itself a share of the 6-AAA South title with a 52-40 home victory over rival Bremen.
Things weren't going so smoothly for the No. 8 Rebelettes (21-2, 10-2 Region 6-AAA) in the early stages of the cross-county region battle as the man-to-man defense of the visiting Lady Blue Devils (8-13, 1-10) disrupted the flow of the offense. A quick five-point surge from guard Alexis Boykin would give HC a 12-10 lead to cap the first quarter.
Bremen continued to keep up with the state-ranked Rebelettes well into the second quarter as forward Morgan Cashen crashed the boards hard on both ends of the floor. The junior would drill a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the second to tie the game at 23-all heading into halftime.
Coming out of the locker room, the fast-paced Haralson County offense finally got into gear when a pair of 3-pointers from Abbey Michalke sparked a 12-4 run to open the third quarter. First-year HC head coach Levi Wigley viewed those clutch treys as the turning point of the contest.
"I told her coming out of the half, 'When you get an opportunity, take it.' She hit those first two 3s that she got in the second half and they were huge," Wigley said.
Up 38-32 heading into the fourth, the Rebelettes started to pull away with Boykin shutting the door from both the floor and the free-throw line. The senior point guard finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and five steals as Haralson County cruised to the 12-point 'W'.
"They out-hustled us in the first half. Defensively, they were hurting us in the high post and causing rotation problems, so we made a few adjustments," Wigley said. "It was just mainly about getting back to the way we're used to playing. Stop getting outworked, win the boards, win the loose balls and start playing the type of basketball that got us to 21-2."
Leading the Lady Blue Devils was the junior Cashen, who had a monster night of 17 points and 20 rebounds. However, it was the numerous second-chance opportunities on the part of Haralson that Bremen head coach Billy Pollard felt made the difference.
"We lost the game boxing out. They would have four shots to our one shot at the basket and what that does is put you in foul trouble and gives them more chances to score," Pollard said. "Both teams played extremely hard, but if we box out and make our lay-ups, then the score is even closer."
Locked in as the No. 4 seed out of the South sub-region for this week's Region 6-AAA Tournament at Sonoraville, the Lady Blue Devils will take on Ringgold in their first-round game at 8:30 p.m. on Monday. Close in several region games throughout the season, they're confident that they can hang with just about anyone.
"I think we've pushed the ball really well these last few games. We've moved Abigail Teal to point guard and it's made our offense click a lot better, along with putting Alyssa (Taylor) and Ashlynn (Hodges) on the wings. But we've got to put it in the hoop. You can't score 40 points and expect to win," Pollard said."All of our losses this year have been really close, so we know that we can play with whoever we're matched up with. We just have to learn how to finish."
Tying Sonoraville for first in the regular-season sub-region standings, Haralson County lost a coin flip on Saturday to determine the No. 1 seed for the region tournament.
Now as the two seed, the Rebelettes will open the tournament versus Murray County at 7 p.m. on Monday at Sonoraville.