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SUB-REGIONAL – Austin beats Lady Patriots in overtime

Austin’s Aaliyah Rice rebounds over Bob Jones’ Lindsey Jennings and Meredith Lovelady in the Class 6A sub-regional basketball game Thursday night. Austin won 44-43 in overtime. For more images, visit www.decaturdaily.com.

Austin’s Aaliyah Rice rebounds over Bob Jones’ Lindsey Jennings and Meredith Lovelady in the Class 6A sub-regional basketball game Thursday night. Austin won 44-43 in overtime. For more images, visit www.decaturdaily.com.

With its leading scorer fouled out on the bench, Austin rallied back from a four-point deficit to beat Bob Jones 44-43 Thursday night in a Class 6A sub-regional game, sending the Black Bears to their first Northwest Regional in seven years. The loss for Bob Jones puts the Lady Patriots out of post-season action.

Austin (23-7) advances to face Hoover on Wednesday in the Class 6A Northwest Regional semifinals at Wallace State-Hanceville.

Katie Speegle made a basket to pull Austin within two, and after a Bob Jones turnover with less than a minute remaining, Meagan Hamilton sank a shot to tie the score.

Tyra Johnson sank a free throw with 31.7 seconds remaining to give Austin a 44-43 lead, and reserve Lauren Fitch forced a turnover in the closing seconds to crush Bob Jones’ hopes for a final shot.

Jordan led Austin with 11 points, while Speegle tossed in 10.

“That turnover was huge — one of the biggest plays of the game,” Austin coach Bruce Hamilton said. “Seeing these girls celebrate tonight, it’s a great thing to watch. They were dealt a lot of adversity tonight, but still found a way to persevere, and that was a great thing to see.”

Austin raced out to a commanding lead early, opening the game with a 16-4 run. Bob Jones didn’t have a field goal until Meredith Lovelady made a jumper at the 7:36 mark of the second quarter.

Lovelady led Bob Jones with 15 points, including three 3-pointers that helped the Patriots tie the score at 18 apiece by halftime.

Bob Jones never led until overtime, but the Patriots kept the score within a few possessions for most of the second half.

From the Decatur Daily