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Hartselle defenders, from left, Jessi Smith, Anna Reeves and Lauren Drake surround Ramsay guard Katherine Graham in Birmingham on Friday. Ramsay won 44-31.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Hartselle defenders, from left, Jessi Smith, Anna Reeves and Lauren Drake surround Ramsay guard Katherine Graham in Birmingham on Friday. Ramsay won 44-31.

Hartselle girls can't unseat defending 5A champion
Shots won't fall for Lady Tigers in semifinals

By Mark Edwards 340-2461

HARTSELLE — To figure out how Hartselle High's Class 5A state semifinal game against Ramsay went, just consider this one exchange during the third quarter:

Hartselle point guard Jessica Andrews' 3-pointer hit the rim and barely missed going down the basket. Teammate Lauren Drake rebounded and tried a putback, which bounced out, too. Another teammate, Anna Reeves, got that rebound and put up a 5-footer with a soft touch, but she shot it too softly, and the ball hit the front of the rim and bounced away.

Then a fourth Hartselle player, Mary Virginia Reeves, got that rebound and was fouled on the putback — and missed both free throws, which came close but wouldn't go down in the basket.

No matter what the Lady Tigers tried, the shots didn't drop, and as a result, three-time defending state champion Ramsay dropped Hartselle 44-31 in the Final Four on Friday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

"We defended well, and we rebounded well," Hartselle coach Greg Adams said. "But we did not shoot well."

Ramsay (33-2) advanced to Saturday's finals where the Lady Rams will face Arab (32-4), a team that Morgan County schools Hartselle and Brewer have beaten this year.

In a season in which Hartselle (28-7) advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 1988, the Lady Tigers averaged shooting 41 percent from the field. That dropped to 23 percent against Ramsay.

Hartselle trailed 14-4 after the first quarter and didn't hit a field goal in the period until Drake scored with a second left.

After trailing only 24-13 after two quarters, Hartselle didn't score in the third until Drake made another basket as time ran out. By then, the Lady Tigers trailed 33-15, and defensive-minded Ramsay didn't allow Hartselle closer than 12 after that.

"Our kids play hard and they buy into the defensive concept," Ramsay coach Robert Mosley said. "At Ramsay, defense is what our program is known for. Kids come here knowing they have to play defense, and if they wanted to average 30 or 40 points, Robert Mosley isn't the coach for them."

By limiting Hartselle early, Ramsay benefited the entire game. After grabbing a 14-2 lead, Ramsay held the ball at mid-court, forcing Hartselle out of its zone.

"If we had had the lead, we would've laid off them," Adams said.

Instead, Ramsay guards Jamelia Kennedy and Katherine Graham took advantage of opportunities to drive to the basket. Kennedy scored a team-high 19 points, while Graham added 15.

For Hartselle, Drake managed 16 points, 11 rebounds and two steals in the final game of her senior year. Another senior, Mary Virginia Reeves, added six points and 10 rebounds. Andrews, a third senior who starts, had six points.

"It's very disappointing," Drake said. "We've all worked hard, and we accomplished a lot.

"We didn't shoot well and lost, but I'm still proud of our season. I wish it had ended differently, but it didn't."

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