By Thomas Sellers Jr.
COVINGTON – One of sports’ many clichés is, ‘One play does not decide a game.’
But in the case of the 2014 WTAC Girls’ Championship between the Brighton Lady Cardinals and undefeated Haywood Lady Warriors one moment swung the momentum from the underdogs.
For three quarters Jan. 27 in the Crestview Middle School Gymnasium, the Lady Cardinals were paced by All-Tournament players Lamia Udley, Currie McIntyre and Gabby Crawford holding a 27-23 lead.
Then the Lady Warriors started to use a full-court press to tie the game at 27-27 in the fourth quarter. Brighton Head Coach Russ Jones called a timeout after a Haywood basket made the score 29-27.
As the teams walked back onto the court, the referees handed the ball to a Lady Warrior to take out from underneath their basket. The Haywood player located a teammate for a three-pointer giving the Lady Warriors a 32-27 advantage.
The error from the officials cost Brighton five points and that would be the margin of victory for Haywood 43-38. Jones said he’s proud of his team’s effort against the unbeaten Lady Warriors, but a moral victory didn’t make the Lady Cardinals feel any better in the locker room.
“You normally would like for the game to be decided by the players and not the officials,” Jones said. “But a mistake was made that cost us 5 points. They got the ball out of bounds when it should have been our ball, nailed a three. The officials didn’t correct it.”
Jones and his staff brought the miscue to the officials’ attention leading to a nearly 10 minute decision. But the referees didn’t remove the points from the scoreboard.
Brighton didn’t cut the lead to three twice at 32-29 after a Udley layup and a bucket form Ally Mize that made the tally 34-31.
The Lady Warriors proved why they’re 16-0 hitting timely shots to maintain the lead to the final buzzer. Haywood earned a No. 1 seed in the upcoming TMSA Sectional Tournament to be played at Brighton High School starting Saturday.
The Lady Cardinals (12-4) advance to the Sectionals as well.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the girls,” Jones said. “We’ve had a great season but we’re not done yet. We move on to Saturday. We’ll have the Sectionals at Brighton High School. We’ll move on from there.”
Jones said with the way the Conference championship was decided, part of moving on includes getting his players to rebound emotionally.
“I told them to keep their heads up,” he said. “That’s all you can tell them. I know they’re upset of course of how the game went down. I told them life is like that sometimes. It doesn’t always work out your way.
But luckily we still have some games to play,” Jones concluded. “We’ll have to get over this quick and be ready to practice for whoever we play Saturday.”
TMSA TOURNAMENT STARTS SATURDAY
The Brighton Lady Cardinals will play at 11 a.m. this Saturday at Brighton High School. The Sectional Tournament will be played from Feb. 1-7 with the championship game scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m. for the girls.