When the game came down to the wire, fans in attendance weren’t sure who was going to walk out as the winner.
However, after a long and hard-fought game, it was the Reeltown girl’s basketball team who left with the 47-43 victory over Dadeville to continue their season for another week.
“First of all, it was great competition between these two teams,” Reeltown head coach Will Solomon said. “People who got to see this, they saw competition at its best. (Dadeville coach Pamela) Holloway does a great job and they always compete. That’s what you expect when you have Dadeville and Reeltown play.
“I’m pleased with the way this team has progressed since the beginning of the year,” he continued. “The first couple of games were - they were really disasters. Our players decided they weren’t going to accept that and they wanted to get better. They had good practices and worked hard and I’m really pleased with their progress.”
The Tigers even put up a late surge in the fourth quarter but it fell just short but the beginning of the game set the tone.
The game wasn’t always as close as the final scoreboard showed in the beginning but the first quarter was an appetizer of things to come.
In the beginning, it was a duel. Both teams traded shots but Reeltown was the program that escaped with the first quarter lead. Dadeville trailed 13-10 as the second quarter got underway but the game was far from over.
The Tigers couldn’t find their footing in the second quarter as the Rebels expanded their lead to 28-15. With a 13-point lead, the Rebels were in the driver’s seat and Dadeville was just maintaining enough pace to keep the game interesting.
But there was still 16 minutes left in the game to determine the winner.
The Rebels had five players check into the scoresheet with Yonna O’neal leading the way with six of the programs’ 13 points.
But the momentum swung rapidly in the fourth quarter. Despite enjoying a 41-26 lead that equaled a 15-point difference, the Tigers weren’t out of the game yet.
In fact, the physicality ramped up on the floor.
“I expected it to be a very intense game,” Holloway said. “I didn’t expect it to be any less. We were coming in and wanted to do a lot better and wanted to win just like they wanted to win. And they’d been playing a lot better and had been able to get more chemistry and work better as a team from the last time we’d seen them play and the last time we had to play against them. I knew it’d be a tough game.
“I was just hoping, like any coach, that we could be able to pull things out but at the same time I knew that they were going to be tough and play hard,” she continued. “I didn’t expect them to roll over and not play hard.”
The Rebels only managed to score six points in the final quarter but the Tigers made a run at the lead. With a raucous crowd behind Reeltown, Dadeville lit up the board in the fourth quarter. Nhylee Banks lit up offensively from deep. Three three-pointers helped close the gap down to just two as the Tigers applied more pressure to Reeltown’s struggling offense.
Even so, the gap was just a paltry 43-41 game with 2:53 remaining on the clock.
“They’ve got really good shooters and they got hot,” Solomon said. “The thing I always try to teach my players is to not ride emotions. You have to keep your composure and make the next play. When they were making play after play and went full-court man, I thought our players did a really good job of keeping their composure and taking care of the basketball.
“We made some mistakes but that’s what pressure does to you sometimes,” he continued. “I really like the way we weathered the storm.”
On the other side of the court, Holloway says that it was a flash of the program realizing what they can do together.
“Not to say a whole lot about the future, I’d just like to say for right now, this present time, they’ve finally realized what they can do working together and not give up. That it’s not over,” Holloway said. “Especially when you face a lot of adversity.”
Outside of O’neal picking up a field goal to extend the gap to four points, Demetria Brown and Dasia Keith each knocked in two pointers of their own to account for Reeltown’s six points.
Unfortunately once Natori Giles hit the final jumper for the Tigers, the program would come up short. Free throw wise in the final quarter, the Tigers were 2-for-6 while Reeltown would fail to convert on their six shots from the line as well.
In the end, Reeltown picked up the win as the Tigers’ season came to an end.
Reeltown’s Keith led the program with 14 pints, O’neal accounted for 12 while Brown knocked in 10. Dadeville’s Banks had 18 points while DeAsia Doss scored 13 in the loss.
Reeltown has won the area championship in each of the last two years but this marks their third straight season where they’ve made sub-region play.