Ranburne’s girls made two trips into Clay County last week for the annual Tri-County basketball tournament and returned home smiling both times. Thursday, the Bulldogs opened the tournament, hosted by Clay Central High School, with a 56-45 win over Horseshoe Bend. Ranburne led 28-20 at halftime and pushed that advantage to 11 points after three quarters. Jesse Ralston recorded 20 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Senior Lacey Smith and eighth-grader Julianna Merrill each scored 14 points, a career high for Merrill. Smith was 8-for-10 at the free throw line and added nine rebounds, six assists and four steals. Merrill had three rebounds, two assists and two steals. Emily Hall scored six points, made four steals and grabbed three rebounds. Erica Lovvorn had two points and five boards and Chaney Merrill pulled down two rebounds.

In Friday’s championship game, the Bulldogs rallied in the third quarter and defeated Cleburne County 46-42. Ranburne head coach Tim Smith called the game “one of our better defensive efforts.”

The Tigers led 18-17 at halftime but Ranburne won the third quarter 23-14. Smith had eight points, including a pair of 3-point shots, in the third quarter rally and Ralston scored seven with one trey in the third. Ralston picked up three fouls in the first quarter but managed to stay in the game.

Ralston finished with 21 points, nine rebounds and two steals. Smith ended with three treys and 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. Hall scored seven points and led in rebounds with 11. Lovvorn, Chaney Merrill and Julianna Merrill each scored two points.

At New Site on Tuesday, Ranburne defeated Horseshoe Bend 73-54. The Bulldogs led just 34-32 at halftime then won the third quarter 19-10 as Smith shut down the Generals’ hot shooter.

Ralston scored 28 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. She was 8-for-10 at the foul line. In addition to her defensive effort, Smith contributed 16 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks. Hall scored 14 points and was 4-for-4 at the line, all in the fourth quarter. She claimed seven boards. Julianna Merrill had nine points and three rebounds. Lovvorn, Jasey Langley and Chaney Merrill each scored two points and Lovvorn added two rebounds.    

Now 11-7, Ranburne can win the Class 2A, Area 10 regular-season title with a road win over Vincent on Friday.