HANCEVILLE — It’s not often Red Bay girls lose a game once they go into their four corners offensive set.
A staple of coach Donnie Roberts’ philosophy, the Tigers usually get the job done when they spread the floor.
It didn’t turn out that way Tuesday against Cold Springs in the Class 2A girls Northwest Regional tournament at
Wallace State-Hanceville. After battling back from an early 14-point deficit, the Tigers were victimized in the final minute by turnovers in their spread offense, allowing Cold Springs to escape with a 41-40 victory.
Hayden West converted four free throws in the final 40 seconds to snap a 37-all tie to send the Eagles (22-7) to Friday’s regional final. West’s free throws spoiled Red Bay’s comeback effort in the second half.
“I felt really good at that time when it was tied and we had the ball,” Roberts said. “We got in the four corners offense and we were looking to get some one-on-ones and get some penetration, and hopefully have them drive and get fouled. We just didn’t execute.”
The lack of execution in the spread and 25 percent shooting (13 of 51) were enough to end the season for the Tigers (27-4), who were looking for a repeat visit to next week’s Final 48 in Birmingham.
The game was tied when West came up with a steal and was fouled on a fast break. The senior, who also is coach Tammy West’s daughter, calmly made both free throws to snap the tie with 40 seconds to play. The same thing happened on Red Bay’s next possession — a turnover led to West making two free throws with 16.3 seconds to play. Suddenly, Cold Springs had a 41-37 lead.
West said she tried to visualize a practice scenario as she went to the free-throw line each time.
“We go through scenarios in practice all the time and I was trying to put myself in one of those,” West said.
All four of her free throws hit nothing but net and provided the winning margin when Red Bay hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Tammy West knew Cold Springs couldn’t afford to fall behind because Roberts will spread the floor at any opportunity.
“I told them we could do it,” Tammy West said. “We just had to keep the lead because Red Bay has that four-corner offense and we don’t match up a lot. We like to play our zone, and I just kept telling them we had to keep the lead and hit our free throws.”
Cold Springs took advantage of Red Bay’s poor shooting to build a 20-6 lead in the second quarter. After making the first basket of the game, Red Bay missed 19 shots in a row before Lexy Lindsey hit a 3-pointer.
Red Bay closed the game to 24-16 at the half and took its first lead when Kasey Sparks got going in the third quarter. But the Tigers’ shooting woes continued and it was their defense that kept them in it, forcing 17 turnovers.
In the end, they couldn’t overcome their shooting.
“I had a hard time getting my shot off,” said Sparks, who led Red Bay’s comeback from a 24-16 deficit with seven of her 14 points in the third quarter. But she hit only 3 of 14 shots, mostly from around the goal. “It was one of the most physical games we’ve had because they are so big and their post players are really good.”
“We missed a lot of shots that we just had to make,” Roberts said. “The biggest difference in the game was that we didn’t make shots that you just have to make.”
Allie Kennedy was the only other Red Bay player in double figures with 10 points. Chloe Harbison led Cold Springs with 16 points and 13 rebounds. West had 12 points, including 6 of 6 on free throws.
Contact Gregg Dewalt at 256-740-5748 or firstname.lastname@example.org.