Brewer, Hartselle to play for 4th time
Both girls teams dominate area tourney
By Mark Edwards
HARTSELLE — After the final buzzer sounded on Brewer High’s 75-38 win over West Point, the Lady Patriots went through the postgame handshakes quickly and left the floor with about as much emotion as they probably show changing classes each day.
When Hartselle followed with a 62-37 win over Cullman, the Lady Tigers walked away in much the same manner as Brewer.
And after all, why should they have jumped up and down and wildly celebrated those routine blowouts? Even though the two games marked the start of the Class 5A, Area 13 girls basketball tournament, the best action won’t happen until Monday night when these two rivals face off for the fourth time this season. Tipoff is set for 6 at Hartselle’s J.C. Pettey Center.
Second-ranked Hartselle (25-5) won two regular-season matchups against Brewer (21-7), but the Lady Patriots won the most recent contest — a 66-50 victory in the Morgan County Tournament finals.
The intensity of these games bleeds over from volleyball where many of the same athletes compete. Both Brewer and Hartselle advanced to the state tournament in that sport.
“Some of them play on the same AAU basketball teams, too,” Hartselle coach Greg Adams said. “They’re familiar with us, and we’re familiar with them. We’re evenly matched, and the stakes are even bigger this time.”
Both area finalists advance to Thursday’s sub-state round, which means they’ll play more basketball no matter who wins Monday. But the winner will host the Area 16 runner-up, which likely will be Muscle Shoals, a sub-.500 team. The loser will travel to the Area 16 winner, which likely will be fourth-ranked Athens.
But no matter which opponent comes next, this matchup still means plenty to both teams.
“Oh, yeah, it’s big,” Brewer coach Ricky Allen said. “No. 1, they’re a rival. No. 2, they’re a good team and well-coached. Our kids played well against them in the county tournament.”
Hartselle 62, Cullman 37: The Lady Tigers could’ve rolled by much more but played their starters sparingly after the first four minutes of the second half.
Hartselle rolled to a 12-0 lead before Cullman (6-20) scored with 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
After leading 29-15 at halftime, Hartselle’s Jessi Smith began the third quarter with a 3-pointer. Lauren Drake made a layup on the next possession. Smith followed with a 2-pointer, then Mary Virginia Reeves had back-to-back baskets. When Smith scored a 2-pointer on the sixth possession, Hartselle’s lead had ballooned to 42-15.
Cullman never got the Lady Tigers’ lead under 20 after that.
Reeves finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Smith had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Drake added 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals.
Jessica Andrews passed out three assists, and Heather Speegle had five rebounds.
Cullman’s Andrea Mason scored 22 points.
Brewer 75, West Point 38: After West Point (11-12) cut the Lady Patriots’ advantage to 33-25 less than a minute into the third quarter, Brewer outscored the Lady Warriors 19-4 over the next six minutes.
“Sometimes the first game of the area tournament is like the first game of the year — you just have to get the first half over with and go from there,” Allen said.
Senior guard Andrea Crawford scored 12 of her team-high 21 points in the third period.
Emily Dabbs added 13 points, seven assists and four steals for Brewer, which has won 11 straight games. Courtney Scott had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Meagan Hormel pulled down seven rebounds, and Crawford and Genie Browning each had four assists.
“It was an odd week for us — we had at least four players miss some school this week because they were sick,” Allen said. “We had others were sick, too. Even I was sick.”
Allen missed school Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because of strep throat.
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