The third time was not a charm for Tina-Avalon Thursday night. The Dragons and Hardin-Central met for the third time this season, and like the previous two meetings, the Lady Bulldogs came out on top. However, Thursday night’s CLAA Tournament semifinal was the closest of the three with Hardin-Central squeaking out a 36-35 decision.
Brianne McGuire only scored 4 points for Hardin-Central as the Lady Bulldogs won their 10th in a row, but it was her only 3-point bucket of the night with less than 3 seconds remaining in the game that provided the winning margin.
Darcy Jenkins, who scored 20 for Tina-Avalon, had given the Dragons a 2-point lead with 11 seconds left on her only fourth quarter basket after Hardin-Central had tied the game with 50 seconds remaining.
The Dragons began the night by taking a quick 10-3 lead, but the Lady Dawgs came back for an 11-10 lead at end of the opening period. Tina-Avalon then held a 21-20 lead at halftime, and completely controlled the third quarter with a 10-2 scoring advantage. Hardin-Central’s only bucket in that quarter came with 1:50 left as Megan Layman scored on a layup following a steal. It was the Lady Bulldog defense that would help them battle from behind in the final period.
The Hardin-Central defense came up with several steals in the fourth quarter, and then Reanna Newham stepped up on offense with a 3-point basket and a 3-point play to tie the game with 50 seconds left.
Lady Bulldog Coach Ken Layman said it was a total team effort that pushed his squad into Saturday night’s championship game.
“The girls never gave up,” he said. “Megan and Brooke (Derstler) had some big steals in the fourth quarter and Allison (Oyler) did a great job pressuring the ball and helping to create those steals.”
The Lady Bulldogs ended the night with 15 steals as Derstler and Layman were credited with 5 each.
Newham and Derstler led the Hardin-Central scoring with 10 apiece, with Layman adding 8, followed by McGuire and Oyler with 4 each. Layman and McGuire had 6 rebounds apiece.
Hardin-Central, now 18-3, will face Southwest Saturday at 7 p.m. Southwest, ranked No. 10 in Class 1, has handed the Lady Bulldogs two of their losses this season.