Each entered the annual Calhoun County Tournament looking for a boost heading into area tournament play in early February. Piedmont got what it was looking to find when junior Bre Green grabbed an air ball and scored at the buzzer to earn the Bulldogs a 43-42 win.
Piedmont will meet White Plains in the quarterfinals Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Green said when she realized a 3-point attempt by a teammate was going to be short, her reaction was, “Get in there and block her out, do whatever I can to get the ball.”
She sealed her defender, stayed far enough away from the backboard that she could use the glass, and her shot dropped through the net as the horn sounded.
First-year coach Terrace Ridley’s team improved to 7-13. She said the Bulldogs had struggled against the kind of defensive pressure Alexandria applied and facing it again was a learning experience.
“Alexandria did a great job of putting pressure on us tonight. That really helped us for the future,” Ridley said.
Valley Cubs coach Phillip Hartsfield said his team had lost five games at the buzzer and that the losses had taken a toll on the Cubs (7-14).
“When you win some of those close games, it gives you some confidence going into other games,” he said. “I think the tale of this season for my girls is just a lack of confidence.”
Alexandria led 28-21 after three quarters. Only a steal and a layup by Piedmont’s Riesha Thompson in the final few seconds kept it from being worse. The Cubs still had a six-point lead with six minutes to go but Piedmont’s full-court zone press began to create turnovers and the Bulldogs gradually chipped away at the lead.
A free throw by Green tied the contest at 38-38 with 57 seconds left. Ellie Morris put Alexandria up 39-38 with a free throw. Green’s 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining, her second of the quarter, appeared to make Piedmont a winner.
Alexandria junior Kaitlyn Brown had other ideas. Brown scored on a drive, was fouled and her free throw with four seconds on the clock put the Cubs ahead. Green’s winning play spoiled an outstanding effort by Brown who was 10-for-12 at the line and finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.
Thompson led Piedmont with 14 points and had six of Piedmont’s 22 steals. Green scored 12 points, all in the fourth quarter.
Piedmont struggled from the outside in the deep background of Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum. The Bulldogs were 6-for-31 from outside the 3-point arc but five of their treys came in the second half, three in the final eight minutes. Alexandria was 0-for-9 from long range. The Cubs were 18-for-25 at the line, while Piedmont was 3-for-13.