Despite foul trouble and poor shooting throughout the night, the Lady Mustangs still found a way to return to the state playoffs.
The Lady Mustangs, ranked No. 10 in the state, scored the final eight points of the game and held off Glenn Hills for a 53-45 win in the second round of the Region 3-AAAA tournament.
"They proved that they are winners tonight," said Lady Mustangs coach Stacey Womack, whose team improved to 25-1. "Against all odds, and everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, we were still able to find a way to win."
With a 56-53 win over Wayne County on Thursday, the Lady Mustangs kept their hopes of a region title alive. They will play in the championship game tonight at 7 p.m.
Hannah Anderson’s fadeaway baseline jumper against Glenn Hills snapped a 45-45 tie with 2:05 to play in the game, and Tianna Germain scored the final five points, sealing the win as she dribbled out the final 4.1 seconds after she stole a careless Lady Spartans inbounds pass.
With Anderson and Shae Leverett, the Lady Mustangs’ top two post scorers, in foul trouble much of the night, South Effingham found little success in the paint offensively. There was just as little to be had from outside, as South Effingham failed to hit a 3-point attempt, despite repeated shots from beyond the arc.
"We didn’t do a lot of things right early on," Womack said, "and because of it, we found ourselves in foul trouble and forcing a lot of shots we should have been taking to the paint. But the turning point was in the third quarter when we finally started getting inside the paint and drawing fouls and getting some layups. At that point, we were able to claw our way back in."
Tanisha Brown’s free throw with 1:41 left in the first half put Glenn Hills in front 17-16. Glenn Hills took a 21-16 lead at halftime on Ariella Richards’ layup just before the buzzer, and the Lady Spartans stretched the lead to as much as eight points on Kiara White’s 3-pointer in the third quarter. Richards scored an uncontested layup on an inbounds pass for a 34-27 lead late in the third.
Germain, however, turned a steal into a three-point play and then came up with another steal, hitting a hanging 10-foot baseline jumper, to close the gap to 34-32 to end the third period.
Dionna Hartfield’s basket inside off Shae Leverett’s pass tied the game, and Germain’s pull-up 19-foot jumper gave South Effingham a 39-38 lead. Glenn Hills never led again, though the Lady Spartans tied the game three times in the final four minutes, each coming on a Shanisia Sealey basket.
Hartfield finished with nine points, seven coming in the second half. She hit two baskets in the third quarter to keep South Effingham within five points, and her production in the paint opened the inside game for the rest of the Lady Mustangs.
"Dionna was huge," Womack said. "What she did was the type of player she truly is and could be for us all the time. It’s what I’ve been wanting to see out of her since she came back off the knee injury. She’s the one who started getting into the paint for us. Once she got into the paint and converted for us, everybody else kind of followed suit. She got us going there in the third quarter."
The Lady Mustangs were just 15-of-28 from the free throw line, including missing the front end of three one-and-ones.
Sealey had 18 points for the Lady Spartans, and Brown added 15. Germain scored 11 of her game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter. Hannah Anderson, who picked up three first-half fouls finished with eight points, Ta’Keia Marshall had three and Leverett, Cate Anderson and Amy Jameson had two points each.