By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In years past, Brighton seniors Haley Simpson, T. Brown, La’Rrie King and MG Smith have bought there way into the Region 7-3A Girls Basketball Tournament.
Friday night gave the quartet one last shot at playing there way to the tournament site for the final four teams. The No. 2 seeded Brighton Lady Cardinals achieved that goal overwhelming the No. 3 Bolton Lady Wildcats 75-52 in the Brighton Gymnasium. Brighton advanced to Monday night’s Region 7-3A Semifinals at Munford High School.
“It’s really special for me as a senior because the last couple of years we haven’t won this game in Regions,” Smith said. “It’s really for us tying the greatest record in Brighton history. This is really special for each one of the seniors, our coaches and the entire team. I’m really proud of everybody. We did a great job.
“We’re very excited,” she added. “We’re pumped. It’s way better playing instead of buying a ticket I can tell you that for sure.”
The Lady Cardinals tried to punch their ticket to Munford early in the contest jumping ahead 10-0 behind buckets from Smith, Simpson and junior Albanie Dunn. Dunn drained a three-pointer in the opening moments.
But the Lady Wildcats closed the first quarter on a 9-1 run to trim the deficit to a bucket heading into the second quarter behind the efforts of Brii Tipton, Larissa Wright and a three-pointer courtesy of Tyler Garner.
Brighton surged ahead again in the second period with a 8-3 run. Simpson and Smith dominated the paint with underclassmen DeMiyah Gatlin and Cor’tayza Flower contributing. The Lady Cardinals’ 19-12 advantage was soon trimmed to 21-17.
Both squads kept pace the rest of the first half with Brighton outscoring Bolton 11-9 for a 32-26 halftime advantage.
The Lady Cardinals made some adjustments in the third quarter. Guards Dunn and Brown coming off the bench from first half foul trouble helped the cause for Brighton as well.
Along with teammate Sylvia “Bug” Jones, the trio of guards scored 28 points in the second half. Brighton jumped ahead 49-40 by the end of the third quarter. The Lady Cardinals grabbed a double-digit led when Dunn made a pair of foul shots and Gatlin hit a basket to make the tally 53-40.
Down the stretch Brighton proceeded with a 22-12 run to end the Lady Wildcats 2018-19 season. Now the Lady Cardinals have the task of trying to reach the Regional championship with the Arlington Lady Tigers standing in the way.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good chance,” Smith concluded. “We’ve worked really hard since the preseason. I think we’re ready. Our pregame warm up will be huge. We have to work hard during pregame warm ups. If we’re not focused, we won’t play a good game. That moment is very important.”