With less than 26 seconds remaining on the game clock, Fairview’s Kennedy Trimble didn’t have the faintest idea what was about to happen.
The Aggies were locked in a heated battle with West Point in the waning moments of the squads’ opening-round matchup in the Cullman County Basketball Tournament on Wednesday.
With the score tied, Fairview’s Taylor Yeager dribbled to her left — around a screen set by Trimble — toward the baseline.
As soon as Yeager cleared, Trimble popped up wide open on the right wing and called for the ball. Yeager obliged, firing an electric pass to the senior, who promptly set her feet and got her shot off toward its final destination.
Swish. Buzzer. Pandemonium.
Trimble’s 3-pointer found nothing but the bottom of the net, as Fairview survived a fierce comeback attempt by the Maroon and White to salvage a heartstopping 48-45 victory and move on to Thursday's semifinals.
“We just wanted to stall the ball and get a good possession,” said Trimble of her team’s final strategy. “That last shot, I just got lucky. We played hard as a team. We really wanted to get this win tonight.”
Trimble’s final trey was her third of the game — she finished with 11 points — and undoubtedly the sweetest of her career, as she ran with jubilation into the arms of her teammates after the final buzzer sounded.
“It felt pretty good to be honest,” she said. “The whole time, my mind was thinking, ‘I’m so happy that I made the shot.’ But I know the whole team contributed to this win. We have a new coach, and we’ve won more games than we ever have before. This season has been amazing.”
Added coach Mary Hartline: “We were looking for Taylor on that last possession because she’s our point guard. Kennedy is a great shooter, and Taylor made the right decision to get her the ball at the end.”
The Aggies were firmly in control of the game during the first three quarters, entering the fourth with a 28-21 lead thanks in large part to active hands on the defensive end of the court — they forced 23 Warrior turnovers.
West Point, however, has been around the block a few times and wasn’t about to go down without a fight.
Jamie Beasley opened the frame with a 3-pointer in the left corner and a couple of free throws to cut the deficit to two.
After a Lizzie Garrison 3 bumped the Aggie lead back to five, the Maroon and Gold’s Mallory Walker took over the day.
The senior scored nine of her game-high 14 points during a five-minute span to help her team stay in the game. Later on, Tess Hembree gave the Warriors their first lead since early in the first with a pair of free throws to make it 39-38.
With West Point leading 44-42, Fairview’s Dalys Mullican had perhaps the play of the game. The lanky forward drove strong to the basket, where she was fouled after throwing in a clutch shot off the backboard. She completed the three-point play to put the pressure right back on the Warriors.
West Point responded, though, as Jeri Beasley sank the first of two from the charity strip to tie the game at 45 apiece to set up the final chapter for Trimble and Co.
“This is our first close game we’ve won all year,” Hartline said with tears in her eyes. “We’ve either been up by 20 or down by 20. We’ve been in these type games before, but we have rolled over or not played well down the stretch in them. I just wanted us to hold on. To get a win like this, I hope it can build up their confidence and let them know they can win close games.”
Her team certainly did all the right things.
The Aggies forced the aforementioned 23 turnovers, but also made 15 of 17 attempts from the free-throw line — a perfect 8 for 8 in the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes, winning can be scary if you aren’t used to it,” Hartline said. “They got over that hump tonight. I’m so proud of all them.”
Garrison finished her night with 12 points, while Mullican was good for eight. Yeager, Sarah Harper and Ashley Latham each collected four and Marlana Johnson, three.
The Aggies will take on Holly Pond Thursday at 6:15 p.m.
For West Point, Hembree netted 11 points. Other scorers were Beasley, seven; Jeri Beasley, six; Lexi Bell, five; and Daeshia Smith, two.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.