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The Harriman Lady Blue Devils put up a good fight Friday night, but they weren’t able to knock off Oliver Springs, as the Lady ’Cats picked up a 52-41 victory at home in the opening round of the Region 2-A Tournament.
The two teams split their season series with both winning at home, and Lady ’Cat head coach Michelle Christopher knew Friday’s rubber match was going to be tough.
“It’s good to get a win. Right now all you want to do is survive and advance,” Christopher said. “They’ve (Harriman) done a great job this year and they threw a lot of different stuff at us that caused us to struggle at times.”
Friday’s game started with Harriman’s Madison Duncan scoring first, but Oliver Springs’ sister duo of Emily and Rachel Griffith answered with a pair of old-fashioned 3-point plays to give the Lady ’Cats a 6-2 lead.
The Lady ’Cats then scored five of the period’s final seven points to lead 11-4 after eight minutes of play.
Harriman’s Jada Johnson cut the lead to 11-6 early in the second period, but Oliver Springs scored five straight points to go up 16-6 then the Lady ’Cats got a 3-pointer from Sarah Channell later in the half to make the score 22-11.
Harriman, however scored the next five points to pull within 22-16 before Oliver Springs used a late steal and layup from Emily Griffith to take a 24-16 lead at halftime.
The Griffith sisters combined for 14 of Oliver Springs’ 24 points in the first half, but it was the duo of Jessica Gilmore and Kara Topmiller that were just as important to the Lady ’Cats’ success. With starting post Courtney Jones in early foul trouble, Gilmore, the other starting post, and Topmiller combined for 14 rebounds against a big Harriman front line.
“They did a tremendous job,” Christopher said. “Jessica’s been a rebounding machine for us all year and Kara made some big defensive plays and pulled down some big rebounds as well.”
Perhaps the biggest moment of the game came in the third quarter with Oliver Springs holding a 26-18 lead. Alivia Baker came off the bench and buried a pair of 3-pointers on consecutive Lady ’Cat possessions as Oliver Springs went on an 8-3 run to make the score 34-21.
“Alivia came in and made me look good,” Christopher said. “They were playing a triangle-and-two on defense and there were some open shots for us outside. Alivia’s a great shooter and those were some big shots she made.”
Harriman, however still refused to go away as they used a Haley Goldston 3-pointer to help close the gap to 38-28 entering the fourth quarter.
The Lady Devils continued to fight in the final period. Darian Boyd opened the fourth quarter with a basket that made the score 38-30 then Duncan hit a pair of free throws with 4:30 remaining that pulled Harriman to within seven points at 43-36.
But that’s when Oliver Springs delivered the knockout blow. Emily Griffith buried a 3-pointer and that was followed by three Rachel Griffith baskets that capped a 9-2 run that made the score 52-38 with 2:25 left to play.
Oliver Springs wouldn’t score again, but their defense made the lead stand as an old-fashioned 3-point play from Johnson was all the offense Harriman could muster down the stretch.
Emily Griffith (19 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals) and Rachel Griffith (12 points, 3 assists) led Oliver Springs in scoring while Gilmore (9 boards) and Topmiller (7 boards) led the Lady ’Cats in rebounding.
Duncan led the way for Harriman with 15 points and nine rebounds. Jada Johnson was next in line with seven points and six rebounds.
Next up for Oliver Springs (18-14) is a showdown on Monday against the state’s No. 3 ranked team, Meigs County (29-3) in the Region 2-A Tournament semifinals at Wartburg. The Lady ’Cats played Meigs County in November with the Lady Tigers picking up a 55-43 victory.
“We’re going to have to play extremely well to win,” Christopher said. “They’ve got a really good team and they put up a lot of points so we’re going to have to play solid defense.”
Harriman’s season ended at 11-20 with the loss.
Harriman (41) Goldston 5, Johnson 7, Duncan 15, Franklin 3, Boyd 6, Sells 5.
Oliver Springs (52) E. Griffith 19, R. Griffith 12, Jones 2, Smith 2, Gilmore 2, Topmiller 4, Baker 8, Channell 3.