Most of Ranburne will be at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum this evening at 6 p.m. when the Ranburne girls take on Section in the semifinal round of the Northeast Regional basketball tournament. It will be the second consecutive Northeast Regional appearance for Ranburne (17-8).            

 Ranburne head coach Tim Smith described Section as “really solid.” The Lions return at least three starters from last year’s team which lost to Ranburne 55-46 in sub-regional play. Smith expects a good game.

“I’ve never been disappointed all year with the girls’ hustle and effort,” he said.                                

To reach the regional, Ranburne downed LaFayette 68-40 in sub-regional action at home Monday. Jesse Ralston scored 31 points, including four 3-point buckets, and grabbed 13 rebounds. Ralston entered the game needing 27 points to reach 2,000 for her career. She got that number on a trey with 5:10 to play in the third quarter. The shot put Ranburne up 50-12 at that point and Ranburne led 62-16 when the period ended. Smith played reserves the entire fourth quarter.

Lacey Smith scored 14 points, including two triples and a 6-for-6 effort at the free throw line. She added five assists, four rebounds and four steals. Emily Hall recorded nine points, eight rebounds and three steals. Julianna Merrill had six points and five boards. Erica Lovvorn and Chaney Merrill each finished with two points and four rebounds. Natalie Merrill had two points and three rebounds. Jasey Langley scored two points.

LaFayette played tough early and the score was 9-9 with two minutes left in the first quarter. The home Bulldogs closed the first quarter on a 9-0 run. Natalie Merrill’s baseline jumper started the burst. Smith netted a 3-pointer. Hall turned a steal into a layup and Ralston’s put-back after an offensive rebound made it 18-9 Ranburne at the end of one quarter. Ranburne then won the second quarter 21-1 and the third 23-6.

In the Class 2A, Area 10 tournament championship game at Ranburne on Friday, the Bulldogs defeated Vincent 44-24. Ralston was whistled for three fouls in the first quarter and Vincent led 6-5 after one. Ranburne’s 17-4 advantage in the second quarter earned the Bulldogs a 22-10 halftime lead. After three quarters, Ranburne led 35-17.

Smith earned area tournament MVP honors with 23 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists. She scored eight points in the second quarter and nine in the third. She also had four treys.

Ralston finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds despite limited time on the court. Chaney Merrill had four points and four rebounds. Julianna Merrill contributed four points, three rebounds and two steals. Lovvorn scored one point and pulled down four rebounds.