Florala fought hard with a strong defensive showing but came up just short to Loachapoka 35-34 in the 1A Southeast Regional basketball semi-finals Saturday at Montgomery’s Garrett Coliseum.
Taylah Murph gave the Lady Indians (21-8) an early 3-0 lead with a three and pushed the margin to 5-0 with a jumper. After a free throw by A’myah Burks, Sharae Coleman put the Lady Wildcats (24-7) on the board with a layup. Destiny Dennis extended the lead to 8-2 and closed the opposition’s scoring in the opening period. Kyndra Anthony and Coleman knocked down back-to-back shots beyond the arc and forced an 8-8 tie. Anthony then converted a fast-break layup for a 10-8 lead after one.
Florala’s Alyssa Thames, left, dribbles her way around a Loachapoka defender.
Briana Jones tied the score at 10-10 nine seconds into the second, but Alyssa Thames roared back a minute later with a majestic three for a 13-10 lead. Burks followed with a layup, while Murph added a pair of free throws. Coleman gave FHS a 15-14 lead with a bucket just over a minute later. Murph used a layup as Burke ended the first half with a tip-in and gave LHS an 18-15 halftime lead.
The two teams went back and forth after the break with two ties and three lead changes. Thames drew the Lady Wildcats even at 18-18 with a long three in the opening moments of the third. Jones and Jasmyn Thomas grabbed the momentum back and gave the Lady Indians a 22-18 advantage. Coleman then scored six straight points and built a 24-22 lead. Jones responded with five points during an 8-0 run, and Loachapoka took a 30-24 lead. Florala closed the gap to 30-27 with a three from Anthony in the final minute of the period.
Coleman led off the final eight minutes with a layup and free throw for a 30-30 tie with six minutes remaining in the contest. Cheyenne Regan went one-of-two at the line, and Coleman had a pair of foul shots for a 33-30 margin. Murph sank a clutch three and knotted the score yet again at 33-33. Coleman gave FHS a 34-33 lead with 1:58 to go in the contest, but Thomas made the game-winning layup with 19 seconds left on the clock. LHS held on despite allowing two shots in the final seconds.
Kyndra Anthony, left, fires up a three-pointer for the Lady Wildcats as teammate Sharae Coleman follows the play closely with two Loachapoka defenders.
“Our girls came out and played hard, and we had a great season led by two great seniors. It was our first time playing in a regional game, and I thought our kids gave a really great effort. We played a really great team, but the girls have a lot to be proud of. I look forward to working with the young girls and continuing to build off of this success,” Head Coach David Bass said.
Coleman concluded a stellar high school career with a double-double and paced Florala with 19 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Anthony and Thames tallied eight and six points, respectively. Meagan Odom added eight rebounds and two steals. Murph led Loachapoka with 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, three steals, and a block. Thomas earned nine and was followed by Burks and Jones with six points each.