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Lady Vols’ rally falls short in playoffs

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Palmetto holds on to end AJ girls’ postseason

Staff Reports
WILLIAMSTON – The Andrew Jackson Lady Volunteers fell short in their hopes ofa extending their basketball season Friday night.
The Lady Vols, down by as many as 20 points in the first half, rallied to slice the gap to three only to drop a 51-42 loss to Palmetto High School in the second round of the Class AA Upper State girls basketball playoffs.
Bre Wright, who scored 13 points, netted seven straight points to close the AJ deficit to 45-42 with 41 seconds left.
Then, the Lady Mustangs, who are now 21-4 with 20 straight wins, charged with a key spurt to seal the win.
Ryan Rector, who scored 13 points, hit two free throws with 34 seconds left to give Palmetto a 47-42 edge.
Brittany Houston, who netted 19 points, dropped in two free throws with 17 ticks to give PHS a 49-42 spread. Just before the buzzer, Brittany Holdbrooks hit a layup off a steal.
“We made some key defensive adjustments at the half that led to our comeback, but we ran out of gas at the end,” AJ coach Dennis Farmer said. “Being down 17 at the half and on the road, we battled to get back in it and made a fine run.”
Palmetto, on the strength of a solid perimeter game, forged a 16-13 lead after one period.
The second period proved to be a key stretch for the Lady Mustangs, who drilled seven treys in the opening half and used a 19-5 run to build a 35-15 lead late in the first half.
AJ’s Wright hit a trey just before the first-half buzzer to make it 35-18 at the break, a 17-point difference.
Determined AJ came back in the third period with a 13-4 surge to make it 39-31 with a quarter to play.
The Lady Vols, who finished 16-9, continued their run and chipped the difference to three, 45-42, but the Lady Mustangs answered with a crucial 6-0 run to take the victory.
“Andrew Jackson gave us a fit in the third quarter,” Palmetto coach Terri Cortez said. “They were a real headache in that third quarter. That showed what kind of team they are.”
Dareisha Sowell led AJ with 20 points and Wright hit 13. Elizabeth Scott scored five and Anslee McDow added four.
Houston, who drilled five treys, led the Lady Mustangs with 19 points. Rector scored 13 and Holdbrooks had eight.
The Lady Mustangs will move on to the Class AA Upstate semifinals Tuesday when they host Keenan, which edged Broome, 48-47 in a thriller.
AJ saw its season end, but with high hopes for the future.
“We really grew up and matured this season,” Farmer said. “I told our girls I was proud of them. They have nothing to be ashamed of about this season.
“We have a good, solid group coming back and we’re optimistic about our future,” Farmer said. “This group improved our record and we went further in the playoffs.”
AJ, a year ago, went 14-9.
“We came on and played well late in the season to finish as the region runner-up and earn a home berth in the playoffs,” Farmer said. “We improved our record and advanced further in the playoffs.
“We’re excited about what the future holds. The key is to keep working.”
AJ’s final week of the regular season saw the Lady Vols defeat Class AA power Lee Central twice for its first-ever wins over the Lady Stallions to earn the runner-up finish in Region IV-AA and a bid to the Class AA Upper State playoffs.