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Brewer bounced out
Second-half shooting goes cold as defending Class 5A champions are sent home
By Justin Graves
The Decatur Daily

Jeronimo Nisa/The Decatur Daily
Holding back tears, Brewer’s Riley Northway (42) tries her best to comfort teammate Rheagan Harvel, right, as the Lady Patriots fall to Faith Academy 59-43 in the Class 5A semifinals at the BJCC Arena in Birmingham on Wednesday. For more images, visit decaturdaily.com.

BIRMINGHAM

Wiping away tears, Brewer High’s starting five sat on the bench watching as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

For the Patriots, all hope for a second straight state title was out of grasp.

Jasmine Rhodes and Faith Academy used a strong second half to pull away, upsetting top-ranked Brewer 59-43 Wednesday morning in the Class 5A state semifinals.

Mobile’s Faith Academy (29-4) advances to face Wenonah on Friday in the state final.

“I will never, ever question the desire these young ladies showed,” Brewer coach Ricky Allen said. “For the last two weeks, we’ve been shooting the lights out, and today, we shot horrible. That was basically it.

“It’s a scoring ballgame, and we didn’t do it.”

Allen is correct. Brewer struggled to score consistently.

The Patriots (32-2) shot an uncharacteristically low 29.8 percent from the field and were just 3-of-19 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Riley Northway led Brewer with 20 points and 14 rebounds, with 14 points coming in the first half. Savana Flack added nine points for the Patriots.

“It was a mental thing,” Northway said of Brewer’s offensive troubles. “They started scoring, making several shots in a row, and that’s when the letdown came.”

Brewer kept pace in the first half, which had eight ties and five lead changes, but Faith closed out the second quarter with three straight baskets to take a 32-28 lead into the locker room.

Brewer never regained momentum.

Faith Academy took advantage of two lengthy Brewer scoring droughts, pulling away on a 15-4 run in the third quarter. The Rams led by double-figures for the entire fourth quarter.

Rhodes led Faith Academy with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Angel Carthen and Sydney Westry each scored 12.

“You could see signs of fatigue setting in (on Brewer’s starting lineup) late in the second half,” Faith Academy coach Woodie Head said. “Some shots they were making were bouncing off the front of the iron, so we saw that as our opportunity to put the game away.”

Last season, Brewer eliminated Faith Academy in the state semifinals.

Rhodes said the 2012 season-ending loss was used a motivational point.

“The entire season, our motto has been unfinished business,” she said. “Getting back here and finishing the job has been our No. 1 goal. Now, we’re one win away — one win away from making the dreams we’ve worked so hard for come true.”

Despite the loss, Allen said Brewer’s players should be proud of their season.

“The players are pretty upset right now,” he said. “They put a lot of time, a lot of sacrifices, into this, but that doesn’t change that they had a good season. Our community has really gotten behind this team. Like today, when you look in the stands, there are people here who don’t even have children or relatives on the team.

“At Brewer, what a lot of people don’t understand is the kids from our school come from several feeder schools all across (eastern) Morgan County. These young ladies, and what they’ve accomplished on the basketball court, have brought all of those communities together.”

Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or by email at jgraves@decaturdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @DecaturPreps.

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