Keith High School's Harriet Winchester, center, drives to the basket during Thursday's game against Berry High School -- Robert Hudson

Lady Bears overcome deficit, advance to Central Regional

Published 11:51pm Thursday, February 14, 2013

ORRVILLE — An early deficit didn’t rattle the No. 8 Keith Lady Bears, as they kept their composure and battled back for a 66-57 win over the Berry Lady Wildcats in Thursday’s Central Sub-Regional playoff.

The Lady Bears (28-3, ranked No. 8 in Class 1A), trailed by as much as seven early, but Keith head coach Cecil Williams said they never lost their focus and got some hot shooting from point guard Stephanie Carson early that helped them fight back.

“We started the game out when they hit those first two threes and we didn’t come out with our composure. Finally, after we settled down and picked it up on their main players on defense, that kind of helped us pull away,” Williams said. “Plus, Stephanie shot the ball very well tonight. She shot it better than she has the whole year. I’m very proud of her.”

Berry (23-7) jumped out to an early 6-0 lead thanks to 3-pointers by Emma Herren and Karlie Milligan, and went on to take its largest lead of the night at 14-7 midway through the first quarter.

But the Lady Bears fought back, as Zykia Pettway scored under the basket, senior Lyteisha Phillips scored in the paint, and Carson added a 3-pointer to tie the game at 14-14 with 1:30 left in the first.

The Lady Wildcats stopped the run with another 3-pointer by Milligan, but Carson answered with a three of her own to tie the game once more at 17-17 with 58 seconds left in the opening quarter.

Herren hit another 3-pointer to give the lead back to the Lady Wildcats and added a free throw to make it 21-17, but Keith’s Harriet Winchester hit a pair at the line to make it a 21-19 game going into the second.

Carson opened the second with another three for the Lady Bears that gave them a 22-21 lead, but Berry’s Rayanna Clark scored under the basket to give the Lady Wildcats a 23-22 lead with 5:38 left in the first half.

But Pettway scored in the paint for the Lady Bears and started them on an 11-0 run that ultimately gave them the lead for good.

Pettway hit a free throw, Winchester added a basket and a three, and Shantavia Moore hit a 3-pointer during the 11-0 run to give the Lady Bears a 33-23 lead with 2:37 left in the half.

Brittany Elkins hit a jumper to stop the run for Berry, but Keith’s Quomila Johnigan scored in the paint, Carson hit another three, and Winchester hit a shot to send the Lady Bears into the half leading 40-25.

Phillips scored ten points in the third for Keith, as the Lady Bears went into the fourth leading 52-39.

The Lady Wildcats cut it to a single-digit game at 63-56 with 58 seconds left in the fourth, but Moore and Winchester both hit free throws down the stretch to help Keith hold off the comeback.

Williams said Thursday’s win goes to show how much the Lady Bears have grown compared to last season.

“It shows that we’ve grown. From last year being down, to being able to come back after getting in a hole and being able to play and keep our composure, it shows that we’ve grown a lot,” Williams said. “I’m very proud of them.”

Carson had 15 points for Keith, all of which came from behind the arch, while Winchester also had 15 points for the Lady Bears.

Phillips had 14 points for Keith, and Pettway had 10 points.

Herren and Taylor Jones each had 16 points for Berry.

With the win, Keith advances to the Class 1A Central Regional Tournament for the second straight year, and will play again Monday at 6 p.m. at Alabama State University’s Acadome in Montgomery.

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