Lady Longhorns run out of gas in state tourney
MONTGOMERY — Marengo Academy (17-7) led most of the way before succumbing to Autauga Academy (31-0) 58-49 in the first round of the AISA Class AA state tournament Thursday.
With a 9 a.m. tipoff at Huntingdon College, the Lady Longhorns appeared ready to play early, taking a quick 8-2 lead out of the gate.
As Marengo went to its bench, Autauga made its first run of the game, cutting the lead to 12-10 before the end of the first quarter.
On the opening possession of the second quarter, the Lady Generals drained a three-pointer to go up 13-12 for their first lead since the game’s opening sequence.
The advantage was short-lived as Marengo Academy point guard Chandler Stenz answered immediately with a trey of her own to put the Lady Longhorns up 15-13 and draw a groan from the heavily partisan Autauga Academy crowd.
The Lady Longhorns continued to add to their advantage throughout the remainder of the game’s second frame, leading by as many as 10 points in the period before heading into the locker room with a 26-18 advantage.
The Lady Generals made a run to open the third frame before MA began to stretch its lead back out. The Lady Longhorns held a 34-24 advantage with 4:09 remaining in the third before Autauga Academy called a timeout.
Following the timeout call, Autauga embarked on a 15-0 run to take a 43-38 lead into the game’s final stanza.
The scoreless streak for the Lady Longhorns lasted nearly five minutes of game time before Andrea Edmonds hit a shot from the left block off a Maleah Digmon assist with 7:35 to go in the contest.
Exactly 100 seconds later, Brooke Smyly scored a putback and absorbed the foul, hitting the bonus free throw to cut the deficit to 45-43 with 5:55 remaining.
At the 4:34 mark, Smyly connected on a runner to erase the Lady Longhorns’ deficit altogether and knot the game at 45.
But exhaustion proceeded to set in for the Lady Longhorns as their 7-0 run to tie the game ended when Autauga connected on a free throw at the 4:18 mark. The shot marked the first of three straight possessions in which the Lady Generals picked up points at the free throw line.
The backbreaking play for the Lady Longhorns came with 3:04 to play when Autauga’s Emily Brock stole the ball and took it the distance for an open layup to move the AA lead to 51-45. Just 13 seconds later, MA’s Katie Tucker fouled out.
Marengo’s last run came when Digmon hit a shot with 1:06 to play before Stenz connected on a pair of free throws with 40.8 seconds left to leave MA down seven points.
The Lady Longhorns, whose success over the course of the season has relied heavily at time on the press defense and success at the three-point line, hit only one shot from distance in the game and utilized the press only in desperation late in the fourth quarter.
Brock finished the game with 32 points to lead all scorers. Katie Elam and Tyler Moretz each added nine for the Lady Generals.
Smyly led Marengo Academy with 23 points. Stenz added 14 in the effort. Tucker fouled out with five points. Edmonds had four and Digmon had three to go along with her five blocked shots.