By Erik Harris, sports editor
JACKSONVILLE — It came down to the final shot on Wednesday morning in Jacksonville.
Hewitt-Trussville senior Amiya Payne took it and she didn’t miss. The Middle Tennessee State signee ran to the baseline and accepted an inbound pass with four seconds remaining in a Northeast Regional finals bout with No. 2-ranked Vestavia Hills. She took a moment to survey the defense and then fired the 15-foot game-winner as time expired, lifting her Huskies to a 48-46 victory.
No. 3 Hewitt-Trussville (28-4) advances into the Class 7A Final 4, where the winner of No. 10 Theodore-Baker awaits next Tuesday in UAB’s Bartow Arena. This will be the Huskies second-ever run to the state semifinals, following a runner-up finish in 2019.
Payne’s buzzer-beater upped her game-high point total to 17 in 30 minutes of play. She was followed by point guard Jordan Hunter with eight points and two assists. Londyn Johnson-Yates came through with six points for the visitors on Wednesday.
One of the biggest shots of the morning came from Hewitt sophomore Audreonia Benson, who connected with a go-ahead trey midway through the fourth quarter. That make gave her girls a 42-41 advantage — the team’s first lead of the second half.
The game went back and forth from there as the Rebels (30-4) sank two free throws and added an Allison Smith 3-pointer, which tied things up at 46-all with 1:39 remaining. Hewitt would never give the ball back, working the clock down until Payne’s final bucket.
For the Huskies, Wednesday’s win breaks a three-game skid to Vestavia Hills. The Rebels recently beat Hewitt 66-60 in the Area 6 championship game.
Hewitt capped off the comeback by outscoring the Rebels 18-10 in the fourth quarter. The Huskies led 8-4 through the first quarter, but slid back to a 26-19 deficit at the half and trailed 36-30 going into the final eight minutes.
For Vestavia Hills, Josephine Dewards went for 11 points and eight rebounds while Emma Smith came through with 10 points and eight boards in the loss.