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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2007
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Hartselle's Lauren Drake drives past Kendra Ward of Pleasant Grove in the Lady Tigers' 55-42 win in Hanceville on Tuesday.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Hartselle's Lauren Drake drives past Kendra Ward of Pleasant Grove in the Lady Tigers' 55-42 win in Hanceville on Tuesday.

Drake gets healthy against Pleasant Grove

By Bradley Handwerger
bhandwerger@decaturdaily.com 340-2462

HANCEVILLE — With an 18-point lead over Pleasant Grove, Hartselle head coach Greg Adams made an executive decision — Lauren Drake, one of the team's senior leaders, would sit out the fourth quarter.

Drake became sick Monday afternoon, and with such a big lead, Adams knew she needed rest for the regional finals Friday.

And then Pleasant Grove made a run, cutting that large Lady Tigers' lead to eight points.

Adams' reaction?

Go back to Drake.

Hartselle held off the Lady Spartans with a 55-42 win and will now face Wenonah, a 52-40 winner over Brewer.

"I made the mistake of saying she was through for the game," Adams said of his fourth-quarter decision.

"I don't think that set well with (the team)."

Though Drake finished with 10 points in 15-plus minutes, she wasn't the only one the Lady Spartans had to key on.

Jessica Andrews finished with 13 points, Mary Virginia Reeves added 11, and Jessi Smith had 10, all for Hartselle (27-6).

"Everybody knew we had to step up," said Reeves, who also finished with nine rebounds.

Added Lucas McDonald, Pleasant Groves' head coach: "It allowed other players to step up. We talked all week that it was going to go inside. For them, the other kids stepped up and put it on their shoulders."

Despite Hartselle's early fourth-quarter lapse, which allowed Pleasant Grove (19-12) back in the game, it really wasn't that close.

After a quarter, Hartselle led 16-12. By halftime, the Lady Tigers had increased their lead to nine.

The lead came largely behind the three-ball, which Hartselle made five of in the first half.

Fifteen seconds into the second quarter, Andrews drilled a 3-pointer for a 19-12 lead.

Pleasant Groves' Jasmine Williams sank a six-footer to cut the lead back to five.

Drake answered by making one of two free throws on the other end.

After Hartselle blocked a shot, Anna Reeves came back down the floor, set up for a trey, and nailed it for a 23-14 lead.

"They were so aware of Mary Virginia and Lauren inside," Adams said. "Jessica made a couple of three's, and Jessica hit one.

"Anna (Reeves) hit one big there that got the lead back to 13 or 14. Then we were pretty much in the clear."

Not exactly.

With Drake on the bench, Hartselle went scoreless for the opening two minutes of the fourth quarter.

In that period, Pleasant Grove began to heat up from the floor after scoring only four third-quarter points.

After trading buckets, Pleasant Groves' Emily Watkins made a layup to cut the Hartselle lead to 50-36.

Meanwhile, Hartselle couldn't get any shots to go down. Pleasant Groves' Tanesha Grant took advantage, making three layups to cut the score to 50-42 with 1:18 left to play.

Drake, though, stopped
the Pleasant Grove scoring with a steal beneath the Lady Spartans basket on their next possession.

By then, the game had less than a minute to go and the Lady Tigers win was secure.

Hartselle will take on Wenonah instead of area rival Brewer. Drake isn't worried, though, that she and her teammates don't know anything about the Dragons.

"It's nice to have a clean slate," Drake said.

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