SYLACAUGA -- Sylacauga High School’s girls basketball team defeated Briarwood Christian 37-33 in a Class 5A Southeast sub-regional showdown Tuesday evening at Douglass-Martin Court.
The victory secured the Lady Aggies a berth in the Sweet 16 for the first time since the 2016-17 season. Sylacauga will face Valley at the Southeast Regional Tournament at Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery on Saturday at noon.
“That’s what Sylacauga is known for and that’s what we want our program to be,” Lady Aggies head coach Derrick Crawford said. “That’s the measuring stick ... to get your teams there. This group did it. They took claim. They said they were going to get it done, and they did.
“The big thing in the second half (of the season) was we played good basketball … Getting back to Montgomery was huge.”
With her team leading 35-33 with 7.5 seconds to play, Sylacauga junior Christina Keith drained two free throws to ice the game. Keith finished with 10 points.
“I knew that my team needed me at (that) time,” Keith said. “We were up by two. (There) wasn’t any pressure. It was just me helping out my team so we can go on further.”
Prior to Keith’s game-clinching shots, Briarwood Christian junior Maddie Vaughn put up a 3-point shot with less than 15 seconds to play, but it missed the mark. The Lady Lions were held to four 3s in the contest.
“That was our goal the whole night,” Crawford said. “We wanted to take the 3-ball away.”
Sylacauga senior Aurielle Turner led the way with 15 points. Her final five points came during a 10-3 run to put the Lady Aggies ahead 33-26 with under five minutes to go.
Three to know
- Crawford reached the 300-win mark as head coach with the victory.
- The Lady Aggies led 9-6 after the first period, but the Lady Lions pulled ahead 18-16 before halftime. The squads were tied 23-all going into the final stanza.
- Briarwood Christian junior Caroline Mays led the Lady Lions with 10 points.
- Crawford on his 300th win: “We just want to celebrate this one tonight. My kids played extremely hard defensively. (This is the) big 300 for me, so it’s special because you’re dealing with a team that really overachieved … We’re 7-3 in the second half of the season. We’ve still got some basketball left in us.”
- Crawford on beating a team his girls had lost to twice in the regular season: “The last game here (a 38-35 loss on Jan. 18), there were some things we didn’t show, and I’m glad we didn’t because we wouldn’t have been able to use them here tonight. That first game at their place was ugly (a 27-23 loss on Dec. 20). We led the whole ballgame but lost the lead with about 1:50 to go … We never felt like they had our number.”