AISA SEMIFINALS: Miracle 3-pointer gives Lakeside win over Autauga
Lakeside celebrates the last-second win over Autauga Academy at Huntingdon College on Wednesday. (Staff Photo)
Lakeside School has enjoyed plenty of success in girls’ basketball before.
But never has it included a comeback like that of Wednesday.
Merritt Waddell sank two 3-pointers – both from the same spot on the court – to lift the Warriors to a 56-53 win over Autauga Academy in the AISA Class AA semifinals at Huntingdon College.
“Greatest comeback that I can remember,” Lakeside coach Ricky Ward said. “Our girls never gave up. It was certainly a team effort.”
The win puts the defending champs back in the championship against Pickens Academy on Friday.
Waddell hit the first 3 to tie the game with nine seconds remaining. After a timeout, Autauga Academy attempted to race down court but a turnover gave Lakeside the ball at midcourt with five seconds left.
Waddell took the inbounds pass, ran to just outside the arc and launched the shot from 21 feet.
Nothing but net.
“I was watching the clock to see how much time we had left.,” Waddell said. “Me teammates set a good screen for me on both of those shots.
Autauga Academy led by 15 points with just over five minutes remaining in the game before Lakeside began its comeback. The Chiefs chipped away at the lead but still trailed by eight with just over a minute to play.
“We were in great position to win it but we missed some key free throws and had too many turnovers,” Autauga coach Brian Brock said. “It’s heartbreaking but I am proud of our girls. I told them to keep their heads up. They earned a lot of respect tonight.”
Waddell said the shots were reminiscent of a game-tying shot she made against Patrician in the semifinals in 2008.
“I just tried to keep myself calm and get myself in position,” she said. “I knew we had a chance if we just kept playing hard.”
Waddell finished with 18 points and shared top-scoring honors with Logan Adams. Peyton Brown had 11 points.
Emily Brock and Tyler Moretz led Autauga (24-10) with 17 points each. Shannon Mobley had 11.
Evangel eliminates Edgewood
Tremayne Hardin scored six of his 12 points late in the fourth quarter to lift Evangel Christian over Edgewood Academy, 59-53, in the AISA Class AA semifinals.
The Lions (23-5) will face familiar foe Crenshaw in Friday’s championship game at 7:30 p.m.
"Without sounding egotistical, we expect to play for championships every year," Evangel coach Dale Kemsel said. "When we started to build this program six years ago, we wanted to be able to reload every season. This group has come a long way and I’m proud that they have gotten us back to the finals."
Trailing by 12 in the third period, Edgewood fought back to within three points with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Hardin would score six of the Lions’ nine points to allow Evangel to pull away.
“They made shots late and we didn’t,” Edgewood coach Tommy Bracknell said. “They were able to make key shots at the end.”
Hardin was one of four players for the Lions in double figures. K.J. Cash led with 16 points. Michael Graham scored 13 and Zach Meadows had 10 points and 15 rebounds.
Edgewood (20-8) was led by Nathan Beasley with 17, while Cole Lipscomb added 12 and Matt Moore 10. Collier McConnell had 12 rebounds for the Wildcats.
EMCA falls to Pickens
Pickens Academy coach Wade Goodman admitted his Lady Pirates weren’t as good as they looked in the first quarter of their 46-39 victory over East Memorial Christian Academy on Wednesday.
Nor are they as bad as they looked in the second quarter.
The Pirates (25-3) advanced to their first AISA Class AA final since 2005 with the win.
A victory over either Lakeside or Autauga Academy on Friday would be the first championship since 2001.
“We’ve made three straight Elite Eight tournaments so it’s nice to finally break through,” senior Catherine Johnson said. “I was around when we lost to Escambia (2005) so it’s nice to have another chance.”
That chance almost went awry in the first half when Pickens Academy blew a big lead, going nearly six minutes without a field goal in the second period.
The lead was 12 before the Pirates faltered.
“I don’t think we even took a shot in that time,” Goodman said. “We just got sloppy with the ball. We didn’t rebound well. We got too comfortable with the lead.
“But we don’t normally shoot the ball like we did in the first quarter either. Things usually even out and they did.”
Tied at 18-18 at halftime, the Pirates slowly pulled away in the third quarter with Callie Minor doing most of the work. She was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field through the third.
"Pickens played well and we didn’t play as well as we wanted to," EMCA coach Neal Dingman said. "You have days like for that. We played hard, we just couldn’t put it in the basket."
Minor finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Johnson led all scorers with 18. Adreka Parks had 15 and Kristen Emerson had 14 points and 14 rebounds for EMCA (21-4).