ROGERSVILLE — Late in the third quarter, Florence looked to be in trouble against a youthful, scrappy Brooks team. The Lions had trimmed a 10-point deficit to just 21-20 and looked to have all the momentum.
But Florence’s size and quickness took over, as the Falcons went on a 17-4 run that spanned across the third and fourth quarters to pull away and take a 43-32 victory in the girls Times Daily Classic.
Florence won its pool and advances to the tournament semifinals at 3:30 p.m. Monday at UNA’s Flowers Hall, where the Falcons will face Lauderdale County.
“Brooks has got a good, young team,” Florence coach Marc Johnson said. “We had to play disciplined defense and hold them to one shot, while getting some offensive rebounds and putbacks of our own. I thought that coming into the game our size would be the difference, and it helped us pull the game out.”
Brooks coach Ryan Roberson said there wasn’t much his team could do to match the physicality of Falcons inside players Emily Towery and C.J. Siner.
“They had some big girls out there,” Roberson said. “We boxed out the best we could but size overcomes. We just got outmatched down low.”
Towery was all over the floor for the Falcons, forcing turnovers, grabbing offensive rebounds and diving on the floor for loose balls. She finished the game with 13 points.
“Emily is a hard worker,” Johnson said. “She fights for every loose ball and fights for her shot. She’s playing out of position. She usually plays the three, but she has accepted her role and has really helped the team.”
Point guard Alexis Sherrod also had a big game for Florence, scoring 20 points, including three 3-point baskets.
Brooks was led by Deanna Thompson with 13 points and Erin Jewell with nine.
Johnson said advancing to the TimesDaily Classic semifinals was a big accomplishment for his improving team, but now the Falcons want to go even farther.
“It’s a big deal,” Johnson said. “This is something we talked about as a team before the tournament started. Now we’ve got to take advantage of our opportunity and hopefully be able to advance and play (in the championship game) on Tuesday.”
n Lauderdale County 72, Russellville 32: Lauderdale County needed to win to punch its ticket to the TimesDaily Classic semifinals, and the Tigers wasted no time, jumping out to a 48-11 halftime lead on the way to a 72-32 victory over Russellville.
Lauderdale County will face Florence in the first semifinal at 3:30 p.m. Monday at UNA’s Flowers Hall.
Lauderdale County did much of its damage in the first quarter, scoring 31 first-quarter points before coach Brant Llewellyn liberally substituted the remainder of the game. Every player on the Tigers roster scored.
“It’s always good to get everyone in the game and get a good bit of playing time,” Llewellyn said. “It’s a goal of ours when we get in this tournament to put ourselves in a position to play at UNA. Florence is a big athletic team, and we’re looking forward to playing them on Monday.”
MaKayla Liles led Lauderdale County (6-1) with 10 points while Karlee Brown and Lauren Comer each scored nine. Russellville was led by Ashley Dunston with 17 points and Victoria Jackson with 11.
n Covenant Christian 50, Russellville 31: Anna Claire Noblit bounced back from a sub-par shooting performance against Lauderdale County on Friday to score 33 points and lead Covenant Christian to a 50-31 victory over Russellville.
It took Covenant Christian a little while to get going, as they led just 5-4 after the first quarter, but the Eagles scored 15 points in each of the final three quarters as they gradually pulled away from the Golden Tigers.
In addition to Noblit’s 33 points, Covenant Christian (11-1) was led by Bailey Hill with 12. Ashley Dunston led Russellville with 10 points.