By KAMARRI DARRINGTON
For The Outlook
The Dadeville girls basketball team came out on fire against Pike Road, which was playing in its first Class 3A Southeast Sub-Regional in school history.
But the Tigers couldn’t keep their hands on the ball, and their season slowly slipped away.
Dadeville committed 32 turnovers in a 49-35 loss to Pike Road on Monday. The loss ended the Tigers’ season at 10-14 and was a chance to reach the regional tournament for the first time since 2013.
“I’ve seen this team battle hard all season, but we just got away from our offense in the second half,” Dadeville coach Pam Holloway said. “We really couldn’t handle their pressure, and we got down early. We started dropping our hand and we didn’t have enough energy.”
The Tigers trailed only 26-22 at halftime despite having 20 turnovers before the break. The Patriots (20-11) took advantage, outscoring the Tigers 13-6 in the second quarter.
The Tigers were led by Janiya Wyckoff, who finished with 12 points and Nhylee Banks, who finished with 11.
Banks hit a 3-pointer to cut Pike Road’s lead to 31-30 midway through the third quarter, but the Tigers couldn’t take advantage of drawing the bonus with 4:04 left in the period.
Pike Road coach Courtney Ward said she had never seen many Class 3A games before taking the job following three seasons in turning around the program at Sidney Lanier.
Ward, who lead the Poets to regionals the last two seasons, didn’t get a shot at a complete summer with her new team. Pike Road is in its first season of varsity competition.
“We’re just going off of faith and hard work,” Ward said. “I knew that if we could play our game, we’d be fine. We started off a little bit slow, but I thought we responded well.”
Aaliyah Manora led the Patriots with 16 points. Jada Roberts scored 14 and Jahkiah Lewis had 11. Pike Riad ended the game on a 19-4 run.
Pike Road is off to Saturday’s Class 3A Southeast Regional semifinals at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery.
While the Patriots haven’t played on the big stage yet, their leader has seen many playoff battles as a coach and former player at Jeff Davis.
She’ll lead her novice team into familiar territory after going to Dothan the last two years.
“I don’t think it will affect them,” Ward said. “I didn’t know what to expect going into the season. It’s exciting knowing that we’re playing closer to home. Our fans can be there and really support us. We hope to just keep playing good basketball.”
For Dadeville, the realization of the season ending set in as Pike Road made its game-clinching run.
Tears started early, but the fans showed their pride for the blue-collar Tigers. Now, the offseason begins for a young team that has seen how good it can be with just a little confidence.
“I hope the girls learned that they can’t take anything for granted,” Holloway said. “We played like this all season. When our leaders get down, the rest of the team follows. We have to continue to work on staying motivated, because this was a close game until the end. It’s disappointing, but I’m proud of my team.”