The Scottsboro varsity girls basketball team is back were it was expected to be.
The Wildcats earned a second straight Class 5A Northeast Regional championship game appearance with a 62-47 win over Southside in the regional semifinals Monday at Jacksonville State University’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.
Scottsboro returned three full-time and two part-time starters from last season’s regional title team, and the team navigated its way back to the finals despite “some adversity” along the way.
“There was a lot more pressure on us this year,” said Scottsboro junior guard Carley Bell. “Everyone expected us to go back to where we did last year. This year we have faced some adversity, but I’m just proud of the team for fighting through it.”
Scottsboro (23-10) plays No. 9-ranked Brewer (23-9) today at 9 a.m. in the Northeast Regional championship game. The winner plays in the Class 5A state semifinals in Birmingham Feb. 27.
It’ll be the fourth meeting between the Area 15 rivals this season. Scottsboro has won two of the three meetings, including a 36-32 win at Brewer in the area tournament title game 14 days ago.
“I knew it was going to be tough getting back here, but the fact is that we did it, and everybody did their role,” said Scottsboro senior point guard Keara Sexton. “A guy from FCA came and talked to us before the game, and he said ‘everybody has a role.’ Everyone has shown up and did what they’re supposed to. Everybody knew it wasn’t time for us to go home. We just pushed through it.”
Scottsboro trailed 9-5 early before ending the first quarter on a 10-0 run. The Wildcats led 25-22 at halftime before taking command in the third quarter.
Scottsboro opened the third quarter with an 11-2 run that started with Madison Holland’s 3-pointer and included two buckets from Bell, one from Sexton and two free throws from Holland. The Wildcats ultimately took a 46-32 lead after three quarters following a trey from Emily Garner and a buzzer-beating bucket from Allie Scott.
“The third quarter was one of the best quarters we’ve played,” Garner said. “We knew we were going to have to bring energy, because [Southside] wanted it too.”
Scottsboro head coach Brandon Childers said the Wildcats’ play changed for the better in the third quarter.
“We came out with more energy,” Childers said. “We came out and I thought and out-physicaled them, made a couple of steals and made it more of a full-court game like we wanted.”
Scottsboro lead by as many as 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Sexton, a Shelton state signee, totaled 19 points, seven assists, seven rebounds and three steals for Scottsboro while Emily Garner had 18 points, three rebounds and two steals. Garner became Scottsboro’s all-time career leader in 3-pointers with 186. The Freed-Hardman commitment set the record, previously held by Katie Kirkland (184), by hitting four 3-pointers during the win.
Carley Bell closed with 12 points, three assists and five rebounds for the Wildcats and Madison Holland had nine points and three rebounds while Abby Jones had two points, 10 rebounds, four blocked shots and two steals. The senior center also drew the assignment of guarding Southside standout post player Macie Williams.
“Real basketball fans know how affective she is, how efficient she is for us,” Childers said of Jones. “Blocking shots, getting big rebounds, denying the post, doing anything we ask. She’s played tougher and tougher every game. She’s so very valuable. People that really know understand she can have two points and still be our most valuable player some nights.”
Williams scored 15 points and Alexis Thompson netted 11 for Southside (20-6).