Bowling Green loses a heartbreaker in the Class AA title game to Leake

Published 8:37 am Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bowling Green nearly won its second Class AA title in four years, but despite getting off to a great start, Leake came back and won at the buzzer, 53-52.

Leading 52-51, Bowling Green missed two free throws with 7.4 seconds on the clock. Leake’s Annika Jones got the rebound, passed to Victoria Sprayberry, who passed Anna Evans, and she hit the game-winning layup as time expired for the win and Leake’s second straight Class AA championship.

Early on, the Lady Buccaneers had the momentum. They jumped out to a 21-2 lead with 3:29 left in the opening period and forced Leake to use three timeouts during the hot start.

Leake cut four points off of the deficit by halftime and the Lady Buccaneers led 33-18 at the break.

In the second half, Leake caught Bowling Green at 39-39 with 21 seconds remaining, but Kristina Jerrell, who had 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting, three rebounds and three steals, knocked down two free throws with 8.8 seconds on the clock. The Lady Bucs took a 41-39 lead to the final period.

McKinley Seal, who posted four points on two of four from the floor with a rebound, four steals and two assists, opened the period with a bucket to make it a four-point game.

Sprayberry, who posted 14 points, hit a three to pull Leake within one at the 6:37 mark.

The Lady Bucs then seemed to begin to take control.

Jerrell knocked down two free throws. Jerrell then hit a fastbreak layup with 5:13 remaining. Jerrell’s momentum carried her to the floor along the baseline after the bucket. She got up, stole the inbounds pass and hit that layup too. It was 49-42 and Leake had to call timeout.

Bowling Green made it 51-42 with Reagan Moody hitting both ends of a 1-and-1 at the 3:02 mark.

But things went downhill for the Lady Bucs from there.

Marlee Tubby, who had five points, made a field goal.

Bowling Green’s Ashley Foret, who finished with nine points on four of five from the floor to go with six assists, three rebounds and three steals, split from the line, making it an eight-point lead with 1:42 showing.

Bowling Green seemed to be in control, but Leake continued to come back and had one final run.

Sprayberry hit two free throws with 1:36 left. Evans, who had 18, hit a bucket and got fouled but missed the free throw. It was now a 52-48 contest with 1:09 left.

Evans split from the line with 52.5 remaining.

Bowling Green missed the front end of a 1-and-1 at the 33.7-second mark. Jones made a jumper for Leake, cutting it to 52-51.

Bowling Green missed a pair from the line with 7.4 second remaining. Evans then drove in for the winning layup as time expired.

Bowling Green coach Pat King praised Leake’s basketball program, talked about some of the things that hurt his club and said that he’s got to do a better job.

“That’s a good basketball team,” King said. “They’ve got a lot of history in their program. We knew they would make a run and get back in the ballgame. They made some runs and got some baskets, and they got some second-chance points that I think really kind of hurt us. We missed some shots easily I think we could’ve made. We missed some free throws early that I think would’ve helped us build that lead even more. But when they started coming back, I’ve got to do a better job. I’ve got to do better things and put them in situations to succeed and I don’t think I did that in the first half.”

King said that he’s got a great group.

“What I told a few of them in there before I left was that the last two games they’ve played have been the best games I’ve seen them play,” King said. “We had some mistakes here and some things that didn’t go our way there but our kids never stopped playing. They battled, and they scrapped for everything they got. It’s a special group of kids.”

The loss put Bowling Green’s record at 33-7.

Three Lady Buccaneers were named all-tournament players, including Hollie Waskom, Moody and Jerrell.

Moody finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and an assist. Waskom had five points, a rebound, an assist and three steals. Katelin Junkins added four points, four boards and two steals.

Leake moved to 35-3 with the victory.

Jones, Jaycie Malone and Brandy Quick recorded four each while Sydni Tangle and Grace Dabbs added two each.

The top three teams from the District 6AA Tournament advanced to play in the Overall Tournament, which takes place this week at Mississippi College. Bowling Green began play yesterday. Look for that result in Friday’s edition.

Bowling Green reached this point by winning the first two games of the District AA Tournament.

After opening the event with a 58-32 victory over Oak Hill Academy, Bowling Green rolled past Kirk Academy, 54-36.

Jerrell led the way with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, to go with a rebound, four steals, two assists and a blocked shot.

Waskom finished with 13 points on six of eight from the floor, six boards, two steals and two assists.

Junkins posted eight points on three of six along with two rebounds.

Moody had six points, three rebounds three steals and an assist.

Foret totaled four points on 2-of-4 shooting, three rebounds and an assist.

Seal had three points, two boards, four assists and three steals.