By Kyle Parmley
TRUSSVILLE — The Clay-Chalkville High School girls basketball team withstood Hewitt-Trussville’s comeback effort and pulled away in the final minute, defeating its crosstown rival 41-33 on Friday night at Bryant Bank Arena.
In the only meeting between the schools this season on the hardwood, the Lady Cougars outscored the Lady Huskies 15-5 after Hewitt took its only lead in the contest, a brief one midway through the fourth.
The key basket in the game came after Hewitt-Trussville ratcheted up the defensive pressure with less than two minutes remaining. The Lady Huskies trapped Clay point guard Raven Omar in the backcourt, but Alex Johnson found herself all alone on the other end. Omar whipped a long pass to her for the easy layup and a four-point lead.
Clay-Chalkville head coach Justin Haynie acknowledged the fact that the opponent was a rival, but did not alter his team’s game plan.
“To us, every time we go out, we have to play our game,” he said.
London Coleman’s steal and subsequent layup early in the fourth tied the game at 24-all. Hewitt took its first lead with just over five minutes to play on a pair of Morgan Kirk free throws, but Clay’s Amiya Payne converted a basket plus the foul on the ensuing possession to put the Lady Cougars up 29-28.
After Hewitt-Trussville tied the game on a flagrant free throw, Johnson converted back-to-back buckets down low to give Clay a 33-29 lead with three minutes remaining.
With the win, Clay-Chalkville improved to 8-1 on the season, including wins over Huffman and Shades Valley. Its only loss is to reigning Class 6A runner-up, Homewood. Hewitt-Trussville falls to 7-5 with the loss.
Erica Lockhart poured in a pair of 3s and tied a team high with 10 points. Johnson scored six of her eight points in the final period for the Lady Cougars.
Neither team established an offensive rhythm in the first half, but Clay-Chalkville held a 7-0 edge seven minutes into the first quarter. Hewitt-Trussville’s only point of the opening frame came on a Coleman free throw in the final minute.
Coleman – who finished with a game-high 17 points — scored all five of the Lady Huskies’ second-quarter points, but Akeria Medlock came in off the bench for Clay-Chalkville and provided a spark with a pair of strong rebounds down low, including an and-one basket. The Lady Cougars held a 12-6 edge at the break.
“Keep your composure,” Haynie said of his halftime message. “We keep harping on that because we’ve played from behind and we’ve played from ahead. Block out everything and focus.
Each team played much better in the third, with point guards Kirk and Omar taking control of the game. Kirk scored nine points and Omar four as the Lady Huskies closed the gap. But Clay took a 24-20 edge into the final period with a Payne 3-pointer in the closing moments.
Payne iced the game away with five free throws in the fourth quarter. Kirk finished with 12 points.
Both teams return to the floor on Tuesday. Clay-Chalkville hosts Woodlawn, while Hewitt-Trussville travels to Gadsden City.