Coming up short

Lincoln’s Hannah Carmichael drives past a Cleburne County defender Monday night.

TALLADEGA -- Cleburne County used a fourth-quarter run to defeat Lincoln 36-23 in the Class 5A, Area 10 tournament at Talladega High School on Monday night.

With the win, the Lady Tigers advanced to the Class 5A, Area 10 championship game against Talladega on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Talladega defeated Central Clay County 109-55. Both Talladega and Cleburne County also earned spots in next week’s sub-regional playoffs.

“It is huge for our program,” Cleburne County head coach Todd Gable said. “Our girls have not been to the sub-regional since 2003, so it is a big program builder. We’ve come close many years, and what makes this more significant is that we have three seniors, six freshmen and two eighth-graders. We are young, so it is great and it is great for the whole school.”

Cleburne County blew out the Lady Golden Bears twice during the regular season, but Monday’s game came down to the final eight minutes. Cleburne County led 10-7 at the end first quarter and 17-15 going into halftime.

Lincoln gave itself a chance in the fourth quarter to earn a second straight trip to the sub-regionals, but things came apart for the Lady Golden Bears in the finals minutes.

Lincoln kept the game close throughout thanks to its zone defense and the play of Hannah Carmichael. The senior guard scored 11 points before fouling out with 3:53 left and Lincoln trailing 28-22.

Without Carmichael on the court, Lincoln struggled to find any offense and only scored one point in the final quarter.

Lincoln tried to work its way back into the game by attempting to press and trap the Lady Tigers, but that strategy wasn’t successful. Cleburne County was able to either score a layup or get to the free-throw line in the final minutes of the game.

Tatiana Ervin led the way for Cleburne County with 11 points.

“Cleburne County had beaten us two times already, and they beat us bad,” Lincoln head coach Amanda Bailey said. “We showed up, we weren’t scared, we went at them and we came up short at the end. That has been the story of our season. I am proud of them, I am proud of their effort. We are going to get back to work and make sure we don’t feel this way at the end of next year.”

The Lady Golden Bears are losing two players from this season’s team: Hannah Carmichael and Shaniya Twymon.

“Their leadership has been everything that you can ask for, “Bailey said. “Hannah Carmichael with her leadership, experience and effort that she shows on the court is irreplaceable. Shaniya, this is her first year playing varsity basketball. She has been a leader with her attitude. She has taken all these younger girls under her wing. I am so thankful for both of those seniors and I am proud of them.”