The No. 3 ranked Hartselle Lady Tigers and the No. 10 ranked Madison Academy Lady Mustangs met for the third time this season with a trip to the Northwest Regional finals on this line. The teams split the season series, with each team coming away with a road victory.
The Lady Tigers opened the game on a 9-0 run, getting points from four different players. They extended their lead 14-4 following a Hailey Holshouser three-pointer. Madison Academy closed the quarter with a 7-3 run to cut the Hartselle lead to 17-11.
The Lady Mustangs opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run to take a 21-17 lead. Karleigh Shipley ended the run by hitting two free throws to cut the lead to 21-19. The teams traded three-pointers to make the score 24-22. After a Madison Academy layup that extended their lead to 26-22, Alyssa McMinemon scored in the point to draw the Lady Tigers within two at 26-24. The ball was knocked out of bounds off a Lady Mustang player with 3.2 seconds left on the ensuing Madison Academy possession. The ball came into Maggie McCleskey, who took three dribbles to get across halfcourt and hit a 40-footer at the buzzer to put Hartselle back on top 27-26 at the halftime break.
Masyn Marchbanks opened the second half with four consecutive points coming off turnovers forced by the Lady Tigers defense. The two baskets extended the Hartselle lead to 31-26. The game’s pace slowed down over the next four minutes as both defenses locked down the opposing offenses. The Lady Tigers outscored Madison Academy 6-4 during this time and extended their lead to 37-30 with 2:50 left in the third. The Lady Mustangs answered with a 5-0 run to cut the Hartselle lead to 37-35 with 1:35 left in the quarter. The Lady Tigers got baskets from Marchbanks and Lillyanna Cartee in the final 1:35 of the quarter to take a 41-37 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Mustangs scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to take a 42-41 lead with six minutes left. The Lady Tigers defense took over the final six minutes as they held Madison Academy to two points. McMinemon, Marchbanks, and Cartee combined for 10 points to close out the game with the defense in control and earn the 51-44 victory.
The win extended the Lady Tigers win streak to 23 games since Madison Academy defeated them in mid-November.
Marchbanks finished with 15 points to lead Hartselle (25-2). McMiniemon added 14 points, while Cartee had 10. Holshouser scored seven, McCleskey had three, and Shipley added two.
With the win, Hartselle advances to the Northwest Regional finals for a matchup with No. 1 ranked Hazel Green at 9 am on Wednesday. The Lady Trojans hands the Lady Tigers their first loss of the season, 47-28, back in November. Hartselle was without Marchbanks and McMinemon in that game.