E.A. Sports Today

Bitter pill

Sacred Heart’s girls end a breakthrough year with a heartbreaking regional loss in overtime

At Jacksonville State
Sand Rock 64, Ranburne 16
Fyffe 75, Sacred Heart 69 (OT)
Championship game
Sand Rock vs. Fyffe, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m.

To see a gallery of photos from this game visit www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE — Not very long from now the Sacred Heart girls basketball team will look back on their experience in the Northeast Regionals and fondly place it among all the good things it accomplished this season.

It just didn’t feel very good right now.

The Lady Cardinals took their first appearance in the regional Friday to the wire, falling to Fyffe in the Class 2A regional semifinals 75-69 in overtime, ending a season of firsts where gaining respect was the ultimate reward.

Among the highlights of the year were producing the program’s winningest season, playing in the county tournament finals, winning its area and hosting the tournament, hosting (and winning) a sub-region game and getting to Jacksonville State.

“It 100 percent hurts,” Sacred Heart coach Marcus Harrell said.“There were a lot of things we were chasing this year, but the one we wanted the most, kind of our trademark the whole year, was we were just trying to gain some respect. I think the girls have done that.
“There are a lot of things that happened around this year that are definitely highs. This one stings a little bit, this one hurts, but I definitely don’t want this to take away from the accomplishments that these girls have made.”

Fyffe coach Steve King offered the Lady Red Devils’ regional experience played a big part in the outcome. They have been here three years in a row and needed overtime to get through their last three regional games.

Having four scorers in double figures and a multitude of options didn’t hurt, either. Gracie Hicks led them with 17 points, Anabelle Taylor (12/10) and Alexia Barber (16/13) gave them double-doubles.
“We hung in, we hung in, we hung in and we finally won the ballgame when it counted,” King said. “They were just able to hold onto the rope. They did the things they needed to do, they got the rebounds they needed to do, we were fortunate enough to come out and win.”
The Lady Cardinals could say the same thing – except the part about winning.
They may have been regional rookies, but they didn’t play like a team that was here for the first time. They may have been down in personnel late in the game — two foul outs and illness claimed three of their starters — but even Harrell agreed his team played better than a team that hadn’t been there before.

The Lady Cardinals bounced back from a 14-0 Fyffe punch opening the second quarter with a 15-1 run of their own to tie the game on Ayanna Foster’s muscled-in layup with less than minute left in the third.
They also rallied from being down six with 4:02 left in regulation to tie it with 2:31 to go and by three with 36.9 to go to force overtime.
“It felt good to see everybody step up and to do what our coaches tell us to do,” Jordan Sabree said.
“This summer when a lot of people were doing skill work … we really just worked on toughness,” Harrell said. “Not just in basketball, but in life, adversity is going to hit you time and time again, and it’s not how many times do you get hit, but how many times do you get up. I knew these girls would keep fighting. They’re fighters. They don’t quit.”
Myiah Harris’ 3-pointer with 12.5 seconds left got Sacred Heart even again at 66. Fyffe missed a short shot on the block and the Lady Cardinals tied up the rebound with 3.0 left to get one last possession.

Harris heaved the final shot from about three-quarters court that had no chance.

She also gave Sacred Heart the initial lead in overtime on a three-point play with 3:03 left but that would be last points the Lady Cardinals would score.

“Unfortunately, we just ran out of gas and ran out of players there towards the end,” Harrell said.

Foster led Sacred Heart with 23 points and 11 rebounds in her final high school game. Harris had 16 points and seven steals. Sabree had 13 points and six steals.

Fyffe 75, Sacred Heart 69 (OT)
FYFFE (28-5) –
Madison Myers 3-11 7-8 15, Marie Woodall 4-9 0-0 9, Maggie Woodall 2-5 2-2 6, Anabelle Taylor 5-13 1-2 12, Alexia Barber 6-10 4-4 16, Lily Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Tate Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Gracie Hicks 8-12 1-3 17. Totals 28-60 15-19 75.
SACRED HEART (24-5) – Alisia Person 2-11 2-4 8, Myiah Harris 6-11 3-3 16, Ayanna Foster 10-21 3-5 23, Jordan Sabree 4-6 5-6 13, Taysia West 0-1 0-0 0, Cearia Jenkins 1-2 0-0 3, Joelle Tillery 0-4 0-0 0, Serena Hardy 2-8 0-0 6. Totals 25-64 13-18 69.
Fyffe                 19            16            15            16            9              –                75
Sacred Heart   19            8              21            18            3              –                69
3-point goals: Fyffe 4-11 (Myers 2-4, Mar. Woodall 1-4, Mag. Woodall 0-1, Taylor 1-1, Hicks 0-1); Sacred Heart 6-19 (Person 2-7, Harris 1-3, Jenkins 1-2, Tillery  0-3, Hardy 2-4). Rebounds: Fyffe 43 (Taylor 10, Barber 13); Sacred Heart 31 (Foster 11, Harris 6). Fouled out: Person, Sabree.  Total fouls:  Fyffe 16, Sacred Heart 20. Officials: Coy Southerland, Tai Bonderman, Frank Webb.

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