By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
A 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the third period, such as the one hit by Huffman guard Shaforia Kines, would normally take the momentum away from the opponents going into the final period.
That wasn’t the case, though, for the Vikings. In fact, Vines’ triple was the last basket they would score all night.
Gardendale put on a comeback run for the ages, overcoming a four-point deficit and outscoring Huffman 20-0 in the fourth quarter to win 54-38, in the first round of the Class 6A Area 12 girls basketball tournament on the Rockets’ home floor Thursday.
Forwards Chelsea Robinson and Chelsey Deloney accounted for all but two of Gardendale’s points in the fourth period. It was Robinson’s 3-pointer from the wing with 6:10 left to play that finally put her team ahead for good.
Unusual, because the 6-foot senior doesn’t normally shoot from outside the arc.
“I think that may be the third 3-pointer she’s shot in her career, but she’s made all three,” an exhausted coach Amy Barnett said afterward.
It was a fitting end to a game that started out poorly for the Rockets, as Huffman opened the game with a 7-0 run. They kept very tight pressure on Gardendale from the opening tip, and the top-seeded Rockets were often flustered.
On the other hand, the Vikings often fouled as they pressed, which came back to bite them both early and late. The Rockets had a good night at the foul line, going 14-for-20.
“You’re gonna win a lot of games when you shoot 70 percent at the line,” Barnett said.
It also put Huffman’s big girls in foul trouble late. Kanisha Quinn fouled out with 3:46 left, and Daisha Moore played most of the second half with four fouls.
But Barnett knew that the Vikings would press heavily, and that patience would eventually wear them down. Her plan worked, as Gardendale’s press break worked well in the fourth quarter.
“The first half was a battle, as we had trouble scoring. But I asked them at halftime to just be patient and keep wearing them down, and I had a feeling that we could wear them down and take over,” Barnett said. “Everything I asked them to do, they executed tonight.”
Robisnon finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds, six of them on the offensive glass. Deloney finished with 15 points, all of them after halftime as she sat for much of the first half with early foul trouble. Deloney also grabbed nine rebounds, six of them offensive. Guard Mallorie Corbin added 12 points.
Catherine Hawkins led Huffman with 15 points, including three treys. Kines finished the game with 14 points. But the duo was held to just five points after intermission.
Gardendale goes on to host Hewitt-Trussville in the area championship game on Saturday at 6 p.m. The Huskies defeated Carver 34-29 in first opening first-round game, which started out incredibly slow — the Rams led 3-0 after one period and 9-8 at the break — but finished strong.