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Wildcats advance to Final Four

Wilcox Academy overcame a third quarter slump to advance to the AISA Class A Final Four with a 43-34 win on Thursday.

The Wildcats closed out the second quarter with a 10-2 run capped by two Taylor Felts jump shots and a Rachel Bell layup off a Felts steal to lead 25-14 at the half.

But the Wilcox offense sputtered after an Anna Gibbs free throw extended the lead to 26-14 early in the third quarter. The Falcons held the Wildcats scoreless for more than three minutes and used a 9-0 run capped by a Katie Reynolds 3-pointer to narrow the Wildcat lead to 26-23.

“They played like young girls,” said Wilcox coach Buddy Sumner. “They hustled but made a lot of young players’ mistakes.”

But just when it appeared the Wildcats would revert to their old ways, they reclaimed the momentum for good. An Ashley Shorter steal led to a Bell layup, sparking a 7-0 Wilcox run to extend the lead to 33-23 as the period came to a close.

“We changed the press on them and started getting the ball,” said Sumner. “We play with our competition. If they’re playing good, then we play good. If we get a little lead, we don’t know how to put it away.”

The Falcons couldn’t recover from the Wildcats’ surge, and didn’t threaten again the rest of the way.

“Turnovers killed us. Turnovers is what killed us the whole game,” said Ashford coach Kellye Epperson. “We’re a better team that what we showed up on the court. I just wish they could’ve played like that today.”

Bell led the Wildcats (22-6) with 13 points. Felts added 11.

Ebonee Cook led the Falcons (21-6) with 10 points.