Makinna Gray converted three free throws with less than one second left on the clock to lift the Elba Lady Tigers to a heart stopping 50-49 win over the Ariton Lady Cats, last Monday night in the opening round of the Class 2A, Area 3 basketball tournament, at the Elba High gym.
Elba jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Makinna Gray and two baskets by Jaylyn Baker and was still in command with a 13-6 lead 3:58 remaining in the quarter when Baker added a pair of free throws. Ariton’s Alexis Johnson sparked a 6-2 rally that pulled the Lady Cats within 13-11 with 2:31 left in the stanza, but Makinna Gray and Nina Williams scored the final four points of the stanza to give the Lady Tigers a 19-13 advantage.
Ariton opened the second quarter with a 6-0 run to catch Elba at 19-19 with 4:12 remaining on the clock. However, Nina Williams sparked an 8-2 Lady Tiger run that put Elba back on top 27-21 with 1:22 remaining. The Lady Cats staged one more rally late in the half, and led by the play of Zhee Oliver cut the deficit to 29-27 at intermission.
Ariton came out gunning in the third quarter from behind the arc and with Lexie Willoughby and Alexis Johnson both draining long 3-pointers the Lady Cats used a 7-0 run to pull ahead 34-29 with 6:35 left in the stanza. Elba made a parade to the free throw line for the game’s next three minutes and led by Jaylyn Baker used a 6-0 run to move back on top 35-34, only to see Ariton close the quarter with a 5-0 run as the Lady Cats carried a 41-38 lead into the final stanza.
Ariton owned a 42-40 lead with 7:02 remaining in the fourth quarter, but this time it was Elba’s turn to rally and led a pair of 3-pointers by Nina Williams the Lady Tigers went on a 7-0 run to open up a 47-42 lead with 2:21 still left on the clock. A 3-pointer by Ariton’s Anna Kilcrease and three free throws put the Lady Cats back on top 49-47 with 16-seconds left, setting up a late 3-point attempt by Makinna Gray. Gray was fouled on the desperation last-second shot, and calmly hit all three free throws as the Lady Tigers escaped with the 50-49 win.
Jaylyn Baker and Nina Williams scored 12 points, apiece, to lead Elba, while Makinna Gray added 10. Zhee Oliver scored 14 points and Anna Kilcrease added 11 to lead Ariton.
Elba (50): Baker 12, Williams 12, Tinsley 2, Purvis 6, Gray 10, Caldwell 8.
Ariton (49): Kilcrease 11, Kirk 2, Willoughby 9, Allen 2, Oliver 14, Johnson 9, Jones 2.