Monday night’s girls Class 5A subregional matchup between Boaz and Scottsboro featured everything one would expect from a playoff basketball game, including heart, hustle, intensity, momentum swings and physical play.
It also featured a fantastic finish by the host Lady Pirates, who outscored Scottsboro 11-2 in the final 5:53 of the fourth quarter to grab a thrilling 49-44 victory and earn their first trip to the Northeast Regional since 2017.
“We did it for the seniors,” BHS junior Savannah Wood said. “They mean so much to us, and they’re the best leaders we’ve ever had on varsity.
“We look up to them and they include us, and if we would’ve lost it would’ve been the most devastating thing, and I was not going to let that happen.”
Boaz, which improved to 20-12, faces Southside in the regional semifinals Saturday morning at 9 at Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum. The winner meets either No. 8 Center Point or Brewer in the regionals finals Feb. 19 at 9 a.m.
The Lady Pirates are making their 11th Northeast Regional appearance.
Boaz extended its winning streak to six games. The Lady Pirates have won eight of their last nine games and 13 of its their last 16.
Scottsboro finished 13-16. Last year, the Wildcats lost in the Northeast Regional finals to Brewer.
Trailing 38-34 early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Pirates tied it behind a putback from Taylor Rutledge and Gracie Duncan’s layup.
Scottsboro’s Maggie Armstrong threw up a prayer that found the basket as she was fouled, breaking the tie with 5:55 remaining. She missed the free throw, but Jadaya Edmonson rebounded and stuck it back to give the Wildcats a 42-38 edge at the 5:53 mark.
The Lady Pirates drew a charging call against Scottsboro with 5:05 to play. Duncan then assisted Rutledge for a layup, trimming it to 42-41 with 4:37 on the clock.
Lilly Beth Morrison’s sixth and final 3-pointer of the night made it 44-42 and put Boaz ahead to stay with 4:08 remaining. Morrison scored a game-high 20 points.
“This whole season has kind of been a roller coaster,” Morrison said of her shooting. “I’ve had some nights where it’s just been off, and I come in practice the next day and just really work on it and stay focused.
“These past two weeks it’s really paid off putting in that work in practice, and I just felt confident tonight.”
Boaz rebounded a missed Scottsboro layup and drained the clock to 3:06 before Wood hit the first of two free throws. Wood missed the second shot but teammate Katie Long claimed the rebound.
Long’s board work led to her layup and a 47-42 lead with 2:57 on the clock.
The Wildcats’ next possession ended with a turnover at the 2:29 mark. Boaz missed two free throws with 1:57 to go, but Wood made a steal with 1:43 remaining. The Lady Pirates failed to convert Wood’s theft into points.
Auburn-Montgomery signee Carley Bell’s basket ended a 4:44 scoring drought for the Wildcats, trimming it to 47-44 with 1:09 remaining.
Boaz burned the clock to 25.3 seconds before the Wildcats fouled Long. She hit 1-of-2 free throws, making it 48-44.
Bell missed an off-balance runner with 13.9 seconds left. Scottsboro then fouled Duncan, and she sank 1-of-2 free throws with 10.7 seconds to play, sealing the Lady Pirates’ regional berth.
“They knew coming in at halftime that we got outhustled the first half, and we got outrebounded,” Boaz head coach Brian Hinton said. “The second half, I thought they really showed some heart and fought for it.
“Scottsboro is a great defensive team, and it took us a while to adjust to their pressure. In the fourth quarter, we finally settled down a little bit, and we got a little more organized. I’m super proud of them.
“The effort in the fourth quarter was just incredible. We wanted it. That’s what I told them at halftime. I said you’ve got to want it more than they do.
“I told them that rebounding is a direct reflection of that. I think in the fourth quarter our rebounding was much better, and it paid off.”
Two 3s by Bell propelled Scottsboro to a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter. Boaz answered with a 6-0 run, tying it 6-6, but the Wildcats responded with an 8-0 surge, including another 3 by Bell, to grab a 14-6 advantage.
Bell scored 13 of her team-high 19 points in the first half.
Armstrong’s trey gave Scottsboro a 20-10 lead with 4:57 left in the second quarter.
Wood and Morrison answered with back-to-back treys for the Lady Pirates, cutting it to 20-16. Scottsboro pushed its lead to 25-16, but Madalyn Droze’s jumper trimmed it to 25-18 at intermission.
Boaz fought back during the third quarter, tying it 29-29 on Morrison’s trey with 2:19 to go. Another Morrison trey made it 32-29 at the 1:46 mark, giving BHS its first lead.
Scottsboro outscored the Lady Pirates 7-2 down the stretch to leap in front 36-34 at the final break.
Wood and Rutledge scored seven each, Duncan and Long both six, Droze two and Emma Smith one for the Lady Pirates.
Lexie Bennett netted 12 for Scottsboro. Armstrong added six, Edmonson four and Audrey Holland three.