Oak Mountain pulls away late

By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor

January 27, 2014

When Mary Beth Cottle knocked down a 3-pointer two minutes into the fourth quarter, the LaGrange Academy Lady Warriors were up by two over visiting Oak Mountain, and everything was trending in the right direction for the home team.

They’d trailed by five points late in the third period, but a 9-2 run that ended with Cottle’s long-distance shot gave the Lady Warriors a 34-32 lead.

Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, though, the rest of the game belonged to Oak Mountain, which claimed a 49-41 victory.

Beginning with a Cali Pollard 3-pointer, Oak Mountain went on a 15-0 run that turned a close game into a blowout.

LaGrange Academy coach Mike Petite said turnovers were largely responsible for the late-game struggles.

“We got nothing on five (possessions) in a row or something like that,” Petite said. “Those trips were tough. Then we started jacking it up, started panicking.”

The game was deadlocked 14-14 at the half, and it was still tied at 20-20 in the third period when LaGrange Academy went on a 5-0 run that was capped by a Cottle 3-pointer.

Oak Mountain answered with a 10-0 run over the next two minutes to turn a five-point deficit into a five-point lead.

Back came the Lady Warriors, who ended the third period on a 6-0 run to take a 31-30 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Leah Major hit a shot at the third-quarter buzzer to give the Lady Warriors the lead.

Oak Mountain scored first in the fourth quarter, but Cottle’s 3-pointer put LaGrange Academy back on top.

From there, the Lady Warriors went more than five minutes without scoring a point, and by the time Caitlynn Croft drained a 3-pointer with 31 seconds left the deficit was an insurmountable 13 points.

Cottle led LaGrange Academy with 12 points, and Jana Maddox added 10 points.

The Lady Warriors will return to region play on Friday at Griffin Christian.

LaGrange Academy’s final three regular-season games are all against GISA Region 4-AA foes.

“Nobody hates to lose more than me. I hate to lose more than I like to win. But we have to learn from it,” Petite said. “We have three games left. They’re all region games. They’re all games we can do something in, even Flint River, as long as we handle their pressure.”