Keith’s Harriet Winchester (12) drives past Brantley’s Raven Davis during Friday’s Class 1A state final in Birmingham. -- Robert Hudson
Keith’s Harriet Winchester (12) drives past Brantley’s Raven Davis during Friday’s Class 1A state final in Birmingham. -- Robert Hudson

Lady Bears defeated by Brantley in Class 1A state final

Published 8:20pm Friday, March 1, 2013

BIRMINGHAM — The Keith Lady Bears held an 18-13 lead at the half, but the Brantley Lady Bulldogs opened the game up with a run in the third quarter that helped them take a 53-42 victory and claim the Class 1A state championship.

Cecil Williams, head girls basketball coach of Keith (31-4), said second-chance points were a big factor in the Lady Bears’ defeat, as Brantley outrebounded Keith 38-34, including 18 offensive rebounds.

“We missed a lot of ours [second-chance baskets] and one series they took five shots and got all five rebounds,” Williams said. “We really got outhustled. They just, honestly, wanted it more. Period. They worked harder than what we did to achieve what they got.”

Keith held a five-point lead at the break, but Brantley (25-6) fought back in the third and took a 21-20 lead when Peyton Hill hit a 3-pointer with 3:04 left in the quarter.

Keith’s Zykia Pettway hit one from the free throw line to make it 23-21, but Brantley’s Raven Davis countered with her second 3-pointer of the quarter to extend the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 26-21 with 2:34 remaining in the third.

Harriet Winchester hit a pair of free throws for the Lady Bears to cut the deficit to 26-23, but Brantley’s Dominique Caldwell hit a three that sparked a 7-0 run which also included baskets by Erica Daniels and Davis, putting the Lady Bulldogs up by double digits at 33-23 with 31 seconds left in the quarter.

Winchester put a halt to the run with a three, but Davis answered with her third 3-pointer of the quarter as time expired, sending the Lady Bulldogs into the fourth leading 36-26.

Keith opened the fourth with a shot in the paint by Pettway, but Hill answered back for Brantley and made it 38-28.

Winchester brought Keith back within single digits, scoring on a runner and a 3-pointer that made the score 38-33, but Daniels scored and tournament most valuable player Amahni Upshaw added another basket and the free throw to extend the Lady Bulldogs’ lead to 43-33 with 4:41 left.

Winchester hit a three before Upshaw scored in the paint again, and Keith senior Lyteisha Phillips scored in the post to bring the score to 45-38 with 3:48 remaining.

But Hill scored on back-to-back trips up the court for Brantley, and Winchester was called for a charge and fouled out with 2:20 left, as Brantley pulled away for the win.

Williams said the Lady Bears allowed Davis to have too many open looks, as she scored 17 points, and went 5 for 11 from behind the arch.

“Our biggest thing when they pulled away from us was we went away from our game plan, and being undisciplined leaving their shooter [Davis] open. She hurt us tonight — she had 17 points. We could have took Upshaw making her baskets, but we wanted to stop the role players,” Williams said. “They got the star and the role player going, and it’s kind of hard to beat a team that way. They kind of contained us.”

Winchester, a freshman, led Keith with 19 points and eight rebounds and was named to the all-tournament team.

Pettway added 10 points and 11 rebounds for Keith, while Phillips had 6 points, 8 boards, and three blocked shots, and was also named to the all-tournament team.

Upshaw had 12 points, four rebounds and four assists for Brantley.

While it’s not the way the Lady Bears wanted to end the season, Williams said he’s proud of how far they’ve come in his years at the helm.

And as they’ll lose only one senior, they’ve got a lot to look forward to in the coming years.

“Over the last few years, I’m very proud. My first year with them, we only won three games, and like I was trying to explain to them in the locker room, don’t hold your head down. Out of 79 teams in the state in 1A, we’re one of the last two teams playing,” Williams said. “Whether we won or lost, it would have been the last game. It would have been nice to crown it off with a championship, but we have something to look forward to. Last year, we lost in the first round at Alabama State, and that motivated us to get here this year, so next year we have a lot of motivation to try to get back here and do what we didn’t do today.”

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