Lady Devils come back to nab tournament title in hostile territory

By Ken Lay

Postseason victories are hard to come by and tournament championships are even harder to obtain. Just ask Halls High School girls basketball coach Savannah Harrison.

Harrison breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday night after the Lady Devils notched a 46-42 comeback victory over No. 2 seed Clinton in the District 4-3A Tournament Championship Game before a packed and spirited house at Clinton’s Don W. Lockard Gymnasium.

With the win, the Lady Devils culminated a perfect run through their league schedule, going 6-0 in the regular season and sweeping through the district tournament.

But the reward was anything but easy.

“We knew that this was going to be a tough game. They’re a good team and we were playing them on their home floor,” Harrison said. “I have nothing but great respect for Clinton.

“They were battling. They battled us all over the place.”

Halls trailed 35-34 heading into the final eight minutes of the game but a pair of field goals from Sophie Tharpe and Kiera Everett broke a 40-40 tie and gave the Lady Devils a 44-40 lead with 52.1 seconds remaining in the game.

Clinton narrowed Halls High’s advantage to 44-42 when Addi Gamble converted a pair of free throws a short time later.

Ella Tharpe, Sophie’s twin sister sealed the win to give the Lady Devils their second consecutive tournament championship, from the charity stripe with a pair of foul shots with 9.4 seconds to go.

But this was a victory that Halls had to earn.

The Lady Dragons (15-14) got off to a hot start and opened a 14-8 lead thanks to freshman Lanee Carmichael’s six first-quarter points. Allie York scored five points and Josie Moody buried a 3-pointer to help Clinton open its advantage while the Lady Devils endured their share of offensive struggles out of the gate.

Halls (22-7) would find its shooting touch and turn up the defensive pressure in the second frame. The Lady Devils forced Clinton into multiple turnovers that led to easy transition points.

The Lady Devils used a 12-0 run to open a 20-14 lead when Ella Tharpe made two free throws with 5 minutes, 13 seconds remaining until halftime. But the Lady Dragons didn’t go away.

Carmichael, who finished the contest with a game-high 18 points, scored six of those in the second period and York buried another long-range jumper to help Clinton pull to within 26-23 at the break.

Harrison was obviously ecstatic after her team left Clinton with the tournament championship.

“I’m really proud of my girls,” she said. “To be quite honest, this was just a helluva game and a great game to be a part of.”

Both the Lady Dragons and Lady Devils advanced to the Region 2-3A Tournaments and had home games Friday.

Clinton hosted Gibbs and Halls entertained Carter but results were not available at press time.