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Tanner players Whitley Mayberry and Alex Bohannon are dejected in the closing minutes of the Lady Rattlers' loss to Reeltown in the Class 2A state semifinals in Birmingham on Tuesday.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Tanner players Whitley Mayberry and Alex Bohannon are dejected in the closing minutes of the Lady Rattlers' loss to Reeltown in the Class 2A state semifinals in Birmingham on Tuesday.

Poor shooting sends Lady Rattlers home

By Brooke Milam 340-2460

BIRMINGHAM — The Tanner Lady Rattlers didn't get outrebounded against Reeltown in the Class 2A semifinals. They didn't have more turnovers than Reeltown, and they didn't get out-hustled.

The one statistic that the Lady Rattlers fell short in was points. And as Tanner struggled shooting, Reeltown took a 49-45 win Tuesday at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

"It was the same thing that went wrong all day," Tanner coach Larry Greene said, glancing over the boxscore after the season-ending loss. "Anytime you shoot 21 percent, you're not going to have a good ballgame ...Our shots just didn't fall."

Reeltown (25-6) advanced to play Samson (31-1) in the state finals Thursday at 4, while Tanner ended its season with a 24-10 record, winning 17 of its last 20 games.

Greene said that although the season-ending loss stings, this year's Lady Rattlers squad made its mark as the first Tanner girls team to make it to the Final Four since the format was introduced in 1995.

The Lady Rattlers last state championship was in 1986.

"We're extremely proud to be here — to be in the Final Four," Greene said. "I'm proud of this team, what they've done to get here, and how far we've come. We're going home, but it's been a good experience for these kids."

Tanner misfired all day and was 2-of-22 from 3-point range.

And while Reeltown wasn't scorching the nets in the first half, the Lady Rebels shot 55 percent in the second half, including a 16-0 run to begin the third quarter that turned the tide in a game that Tanner led 20-16 at halftime.

"It was a game of runs," Reeltown coach Jackie O'Neal said. "We came out tight and Tanner looked a lot more relaxed at the beginning. ...We came up with a big run in the third quarter, and I thought that was the deciding factor in the ballgame."

Tanner was ahead 10-4 after the first quarter before Reeltown scored the first seven points of the second for a brief 11-10 lead. The score was tied at 12, but Tanner regained the lead on a basket by senior Hollye Keenum that kept Tanner
ahead. Still, the Lady Rebels outscored Tanner 12-10 in the second quarter, slicing the Lady Rattlers' lead to four points at the break.

Reeltown came out strong again after halftime, with a 16-point scoring run that put the Lady Rebels up 32-20 as Tanner went scoreless for the first six minutes of the second half.

A 3-pointer by Keenum with 2:07 left in the third was Tanner's first points of the second half, amid a scattering of missed layups and long-range attempts by the Lady Rattlers.

"I think we just got under pressure and got very frustrated," Tanner senior Mikala Malone said. "We just weren't putting the ball on the square."

Reeltown outscored Tanner 21-8 in the third and led 37-28 heading into the fourth quarter, but poor shooting had not taken the Lady Rattlers out of the contest.

Greene said his players were motivated for the final period and the Lady Rattlers delivered, outscoring Reeltown 17-12 in the final eight minutes.

"They showed a lot of heart trying to get back in the game," Greene said. "They got pumped up at the end of the third quarter."

Malone hit a basket assisted by senior Cecily Woods, bringing Tanner within 39-34 with 5:14 left in the game, and Malone hit a pair free throws with 4:48 left to play that had Tanner within 39-36.

A Malone put back with 2:07 left had Tanner within three points, 43-40, but it was as close as the Lady Rattlers would come late.

Malone led Tanner in scoring with 14 points and also pulled down 12 rebounds. Senior Whitley Mayberry finished with 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Keenum added 11 points and two steals.

Desiree Heard's double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds paced Reeltown, while Shania O'Neal had 12 points, five assists and four steals.

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