On three separate occasions Friday night, the clock was ticking down and Dadeville’s girls basketball team had the chance to claim the Class 3A Area 7 championship. But it took until the third time and double overtime for the Tigers to seal the deal.
After 40 total minutes of game clock and nearly 2 ½ hours of real time, the Tigers defeated Beulah, 65-58, to earn the area title.
“All of the above on the emotions, but it says a lot for them and how they worked this season,” Dadeville coach Pam Holloway said. “I’m just so proud of them. A lot of times teams had adversity that a lot of people don’t know about, and we had some even today — a day that you should be focused on the championship. But we worked through it as a team.”
Each of the final moments of what could’ve been the end of the game were different for the area foes but the Tigers always had a chance to win it.
With 10 seconds left in regulation, Beulah’s Kensley Taylor hit a layup to tie the game, and on the Tigers’ ensuing possession, the Bobcats committed a foul. But Dadeville missed back-to-back free throws with 3.4 seconds left, sending the game to overtime.
In the first overtime period, it was the Tigers who had to fight back as Beulah held a 54-50 lead with 2:04 left after Taylor completed an unusual 4-point play. But Janiya Wyckoff scored back-to-back free throws and with 24 seconds left, Nhylee Banks grabbed a steal and a fast-break layup. She had the chance to win it as she was fouled on the way up, but the free throw tinked off the rim, and once again, the teams needed more time.
Both Dadeville and Beulah started to feel the pressure and combined for a staggering 22 turnovers in the second extra period alone. It was a Beulah steal and layup from Angelica Calloway with under two minutes to go that put the Bobcats ahead 58-57. But that was the last time Beulah had the lead, as the Tigers reeled off the next seven points, including five from Wyckoff, to ensure the victory.
“I’m so proud of their work ethic and heart that they had,” Holloway said. “I just want to see them cut the turnovers down because we had so many opportunities and we gave it right back. But one thing I say about them is they work hard to get right back.
“But I do wish we could take care of the ball better with the turnovers, and I think that would make a big difference for us moving forward because we’re going to have to limit that.”
Although Dadeville did have its fair share of turnovers — 48 to be exact — the Tigers also used a high-pressure defense to create some chaos of its own. Beulah finished with 57 turnovers, and 17 of those were due to Dadeville steals. Layla Grace and Banks each had three steals while Natori Giles, Wyckoff, Makya Johnson and Nena Pearson had two apiece.
“I think it was a big key for us to be able to keep moving the ball,” Holloway said. “We still have to work on some things that we’ve been working on all year and that’s getting back. We gotta get back on defense and be able to pick up and know where the ball is, things like that.”
The best part about the area championship is the Tigers have the right to host a sub-regional game which will be against Pike Road on Monday, and Holloway said that experience is going to make a big difference for her squad, which is loaded with seven freshmen. The time of Monday’s game is still to be decided.