By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
GOOD HOPE —
As Good Hope’s longtime coach, Michael Oldacre had seen just about everything the world of prep girls basketball has to offer. Well, he thought he had before Saturday night’s Class 3A, Area 13 Tournament final against Danville, anyway.
The Hawks’ Tabetha Hutto banked in the go-ahead shot from underneath the basket with five seconds remaining, and the Raiders then threw away the inbounds pass while their coach tried to call a timeout, resulting in a 44-42 championship victory for visiting Danville.
According to Oldacre, he believed Good Hope still had one timeout following Hutto’s uncontested layup, but when he went to use it, a scorekeeper said otherwise, leaving the referees to deny his request. By the time both scorekeepers agreed the Raiders did indeed have a timeout and the clock operator allowed the buzzer to sound without an official signaling a stoppage in play, a Good Hope player had already thrown in the ball, which slipped past Kayla Tillman and bounced out of bounds.
After a lengthy huddle between the three on-court referees, they upheld the out-of-bounds call, giving possession to the Hawks, who iced the win just a short while later with a pair of free throws from Tara Tuck — and after Oldacre was finally granted his timeout, of course.
“When we threw it in and threw it away, they said the scorekeeper can’t stop the clock, can’t stop the action,” the coach said of the officials’ ruling on the zany sequence. “Then they gave me the timeout.”
Regardless of the “weird ending,” Oldacre wasn’t about to make excuses for his squad’s loss. The Raiders (19-13) pulled away for six-point leads in the first and third quarters but made far too many unforced errors and missed too many easy shots to let Danville hang around.
The Hawks took over in the fourth quarter, where they outscored Good Hope 17-9, brushing off Cara Goodwin’s clutch game-tying 3-pointer — her third of the night — with 43 seconds on the clock by answering with Hutto’s heroics and Tuck’s two baskets from the charity stripe.
“We didn’t show composure, and we didn’t have the leadership we should’ve had in this game,” Oldacre said. “I felt like we didn’t make good decisions, like we played at their pace instead of ours. They played like they were the home team and we were the away team.”
Goodwin finished with a team-high 15 points, two more than Tillman, who was playing in her first game since reaching the 2,000-point mark for her career. Savannah Fendley and Alannah Henke both contributed four points for the Raiders, while Katelyn Bishop, Kacy Thomas and Kami Calvert all had two points apiece.
Danville’s Sydni Shelton capped off a superb area tourney showing with 16 points. Her teammate, Gracie George, came through with half of her 10 points in the final quarter.
As the area champs, the Hawks earned the right to host Cordova for a sub-region matchup on Thursday night. As the runner-up, Good Hope will have to endure a long bus ride for a tough test against Winfield (23-6), which secured the Area 14 crown by beating the Blue Devils 65-51 on Saturday.
The winners of both sub-region contests will snag coveted spots at the Northwest Regional Tournament.
“They made a lot harder road to get to Wallace for themselves,” Oldacre said of the Raiders.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.