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FRIDAY GIRLS CHEROKEE COUNTY TOURNAMENT ROUNDUP: Sand Rock girls outlast Cherokee County in double overtime, 51-44

Sand Rock’s Lanie Henderson drives past Cherokee County’s Mary Hayes Johnson during their Cherokee County Tournament semifinal game on Friday night. Photo by Shannon Fagan.

CENTRE – It was what one would expect from a 2-3 matchup in the Cherokee County Tournament on Friday night.

It took two overtimes to decide, but in the end, the Sand Rock Lady Wildcats outlasted Cherokee County in a defensive battle 51-44 to advance to the tournament championship on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Lady Wildcats will meet area rival Spring Garden for the third time this basketball season.

“It went back and forth,” Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates said. “There were times I was just like ‘We’re out of this game.’ We had every opportunity to lose that one. It was a very physical game. I felt like we did some big things under pressure there at the end.

“It was not a pretty game to watch. It could’ve gone either way. We’re happy to be surviving and advancing.”

The two teams were tied at 33 at the end of regulation after the Lady Warriors’ Mary Hayes Johnson couldn’t connect on a layup in the lane as time expired, forcing the first overtime.

Carson Coley gave the Lady Warriors a 38-35 lead on a layup late in the first overtime, but Sand Rock’s Lanie Henderson sank an open 3-pointer with 27.5 seconds to go to tie the game at 38.

Audrey Green had a chance to win it for the Lady Warriors with 2.3 seconds to go when she was fouled driving to the basket. She went to the free-throw line for a 1-and-1, but she missed the first shot which was rebounded by Henderson to force the second overtime.

Sand Rock went on an 8-0 run to begin the second overtime to take a 46-38 edge and ultimately held on for the win.

“Scoring first in that last overtime, when we made that score, it was crucial,” Bates said. “We just kept building on it a little bit.”

Henderson led Sand Rock with 19 points, including seven in the extra sessions. She also posted 16 rebounds, four steals, four blocks and an assist.

“She tried to take over there, and I love that,” Bates said of Henderson. “She can do that more often. She can take over a game. She did rebounding-wise too. I felt like she had some big blocks, had some big rebounds. When the game was on the line, she said ‘Give me the ball.’”

Haley Grace Lisenbee added 14 points (including 6-of-7 free throws in overtime) and 10 rebounds. Caley Garrett and Katelyn StClair finished with seven points apiece.

Johnson, Audrey Haygood and Ella Garmany each scored nine points to lead the Lady Warriors. Green, Coley and Emily Allen each finished with five points.

“We did a good job on some of their players,” Bates said. “They can shoot the ball. It was a defensive struggle. The whole game was a defensive struggle. It was very physical on both ends. We’re just glad to come out on top of it.”

Spring Garden 86, Cedar Bluff 21

CENTRE – Kayley Kirk connected on four first-quarter 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points to lead top-seeded Spring Garden to an 86-21 rout of Cedar Bluff in the Cherokee County Tournament on Friday.

Neely Welsh added 15 points for the Lady Panthers. Olivia Law netted 10 points. Bri Bole sank three treys and had nine points. Ace Austin and Libby Brown both came away with eight points. Abbey Steward finished with six points on a pair of treys.

Kylie Vadon led Cedar Bluff with nine points.

Spring Garden took control of the game early, building a 34-0 edge in the first quarter and a 56-4 advantage at halftime. The Lady Panthers led 79-15 after three quarters.

Spring Garden will face Sand Rock for the third time this season in the county girls title game on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Spring Gardens Neely Welsh shoots a contested shot against Cedar Bluff in the Cherokee County Tournament on Friday. Photo by Shannon Fagan.
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