By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
HANCEVILLE — It took Destiney Elliott and her top-ranked Oneonta squad a quarter to get going in Thursday's Class 4A Northwest Regional semifinal, but once they did, Brooks didn't have a prayer.
The Redskins (29-4) picked apart the Lions on defense and sunk enough timely shots from the field to head to Saturday's regional championship with a surgical 39-24 win. They'll face West Limestone for the title at 12:20 p.m.
Elliott was 10 of 16 from the field and knocked down three 3-pointers en route to a 24-point showing. The junior forward also had six rebounds, four steals and two blocks.
Brooks only trailed 7-6 at the end of the first quarter. Oneonta limited the Lions to just five points over the next two quarters, though, to secure the final outcome.
Britt McCormick scored seven points for Brooks, which finished the season 17-14.
% West Limestone 53, J.O. Johnson 44: The Wildcats pulled away late, outscoring the Jaguars by nine in the fourth quarter to grab a regional semifinal victory at Wallace State.
Autumn Bates brought West Limestone back into the ballgame with back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third quarter, and Bugg Grizzard used some flashy moves at point guard to help the Wildcats (24-9) seal the deal in the final eight-minute stretch. Grizzard fooled the J.O. Johnson defense with a fake pass in the lane that resulted in an easy layup and connected on a few precision passes to open up opportunities in the paint.
Bates wound up with a team-high 11 points, while Grizzard and Laura Easter both pitched in 10. Kayla Carter and Shelby Clay capped off a balanced scoring effort with nine apiece.
The Jaguars (16-13) held slim leads at the first two quarter breaks before West Limestone tied the contest by the end of the third and took over at the end.
Rayven Pearson, the Jaguars' 6-foot-2 sophomore center, tacked on 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Le'Sequa Hawkins came up with 12 points. Nyla Pressley had 10 points.
% Butler 47, Brooks 40: The Rebels finally won a 2013 postseason game by more than two points.
After beating Pope John Paul II and Fairview by the margin and dropping the area title contest to J.O. Johnson by just a pair, Butler held on for a slightly more comfortable seven-point triumph on Thursday, staving off a strong fourth-quarter run by the Lions to move on to the regional title tilt.
The Rebels (16-13) will seek revenge on the Jaguars on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.
Robert Steele and K.J. Gosa were Butler's high scorers with 14 and 11 points, respectively.
Chris Crews' 10 points were best for Brooks (26-8), which closed the gap to just three at one point in the fourth quarter. Holden Corum scored nine points.
% J.O. Johnson 66, West Limestone 32: The Jaguars outhustled, out-pressed and outplayed the Wildcats, running them off the court and out of the Tom Drake Coliseum with a 34-point thumping.
J.O. Johnson's speedy bunch smothered West Limestone (23-10), turning 24 forced turnovers into 26 points, more than enough to keep the Wildcats far from the lead.
Lionel Love and Keon Ray led the charge for the Jaguars (20-11) with 15 points each. Charles Woodard scored 11.
Austin Tuten was West Limestone's top scorer with nine points.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.