Hayden had climbed a sizeable hill to get back on even terms with archrival Oneonta, and had worked its way back to a 44-44 tie with 50 seconds left in the girls’ finals of the 2011 Blount County Basketball Tournament.
As the clock ticked down to two seconds, Redskins guard Abby Blackwood put up a shot that clanked off the rim.
But Wildcat guard Grayson Taylor, who appeared to get a piece of the ball, was called instead for a foul, putting Blackwood at the free throw line for two shots.
She only sank the first, but that was all that was needed as Oneonta defeated the Wildcats 45-44 before a standing-room-only crowd in a sweltering Hayden High gym on Saturday night.
The ‘Skins, ranked eighth in the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A poll, took command early by holding the 10th-ranked (5A) Wildcats to just a solitary 3-point basket by guard Krista Stricklin in the first quarter.
Forward Madison Durham, normally a big presence in the paint for Hayden, struggled early. She missed shots from the paint and going 0-for-3 at the foul line.
Oneonta forward Destiny Elliott, the tournament’s most valuable player, got off to a fast start with 10 points before halftime.
Down 21-12 at the break and by as many as 15 as the second half began, Stricklin took matters into her own hands.
The junior went on a streak, scoring all but two of Hayden’s points in the third quarter and 22 points in the second half.
Durham returned and reasserted herself in the lane, scoring six points in the last five minutes. The last two were the most important, as she sank a pair of free throws to tie the game with 50 seconds to go.
Oneonta took a time out and ran the clock down, giving Blackwood just enough time to get off the last shot — and not enough for the Cats to shoot after her free throws.
Stricklin finished with a game-high 30 points plus eight rebounds. Durham collected 10 points and 13 rebounds for Hayden (18-5).
Durham, Stricklin and Anna Shelton were named to the all-tournament team.
Elliott finished with 23 points, and Blackwood — also named to the all-tourney team — had seven points.