Hayden held off not one, but two rally attempts by Hueytown to claim a 74-64 victory Friday night, and win a spot in the championship game of the their own Christmas Classic girls basketball tournament.
Up by only five points at halftime, the Wildcats got on a roll and extended the lead to 20 in a bit more than six minutes, thanks in part to three 3-point baskets by Sharley Miller.
But the Golden Gophers came back to close the margin to 67-62 late in the game. Miller put the Cats back up with an old-style 3-point play, and Grayson Taylor went 4-of-4 at the foul line to clinch the win.
Taylor had a big night with a double-double — 26 points and 11 assists. Miller finished with 20 points, hitting 4-of-7 beyond the arc, and also had seven rebounds. And center Katie Parr logged yet another double-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and five steals.
Destiny Winters and Camilla Carter led the Gophers with 17 points each, and D’miyah Foster added 11 points.
Hayden plays Good Hope in the championship game Saturday night at about 8:30. Hueytown plays Homewood in the third-place game immediately beforehand at 7.
Consolation semifinals — Mortimer Jordan 61, Cordova 59: Down almost all the way, Jordan went on a 13-0 run late, and Megan Snow hit two free throws in the final minute to but Jordan up for good.
Snow finished with 15 points and six rebounds, and went 5-for-6 at the foul line. Amanda Dean had 14 points, five boards and four steals, while Alysa Amberson added 10 points and six rebounds for Jordan (6-7).
Kelsey Stracner scored 18 points, with four 3-pointers, and Reagan Sherer added 15 points for Cordova (5-8).
Jordan plays Hewitt-Trussville at 5:30 p.m. in the fifth-place game.