Three-point baskets by Aterika Merritt and Dejah Merritt in the final minute and 10 seconds propelled Ethel to a 41-38 victory over French Camp in the Region 5-1A tournament semifinals Tuesday.
The Lady Tigers will play top seed and defending champion West Lowndes in the title game Friday. French Camp will play Nanih Waiya in Thursday’s consolation game.
After French Camp battled back from an 11-point deficit to take a 36-34 lead, Aterika Merritt made a three-pointer with 1:10 on the clock to put Ethel back in the lead.
Ethel coach Corey Parish said Dejah Merritt was supposed to take the shot. But she was guarded closely so she passed the ball to Aterika, her cousin, for the go-ahead three-pointer. Dejah made it a four-point lead 20 seconds later.
French Camp jumped out to a 13-6 first quarter lead on seven points by Jasmine Bonty and two 3-pointers by Grace Ann Wade.
But the Lady Panthers then went scoreless for more than nine minutes as Ethel ran off 15 straight points. Bonty was on the bench in foul trouble during part of her team’s dry spell.
It was a scoring drought by Ethel that allowed French Camp to get back in the game. The Lady Tigers failed to score the first five and a half minutes of the second half.
Parish attributed the victory to his team’s pressure defense that forced numerous turnovers. “We’re not a good shooting team.”
Bonty finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out in the final minute.
Brooke Mitchell led Ethel with 11 points, all in the second quarter. She made three 3-pointers on high arcing shots that came straight down in the basket.