Lady Griffins Fight Off Tough Hammond Team to Advance to Finals

It took an extra frame of free basketball to sort things out Friday night, but the Lady Griffins finally managed to dispose of a tough and tenacious Hammond team, 49-47, in round two of the Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament at Fairfield Central High School.

The Lady Griffins trailed for nearly the entire game, as Hammond jumped out to an early lead against a Fairfield team that struggled to find the hoop. The Lady Skyhawks led 12-6 midway through the first half, but the full court press helped Fairfield dig out. A buzzer rebound put-back by Tiea Quanna Pearson tied the game at 16 at the break.

Fairfield went cold again to start the second half, however, and Hammond ran up a 34-28 lead with 6:36 to play. The full-court press forced turnover after turnover, but the Lady Griffins could not convert in the transition. A 3-pointer by freshman Tanise Davis with 5:47 to go cut the Skyhawk lead to 38-33 and provided the Lady Griffins with the spark they had been looking for all game long. As the game raced toward the final buzzer, Christian Thompson nailed a 3-point basket to whittle the deficit down to a single point, 38-37, with just over 44 seconds remaining.

Hammond then turned the ball over on the in-bounds pass play and Jada Martin drew a foul with 31 seconds to play. Martin’s first shot from the stripe rattled out of the rim and the fingernail chewing officially set in for the hometown crowd. But Martin’s second effort was true, and regulation would come to a close knotted at 38.

The 4-minute extra period was a seesaw struggle, with the Lady Skyhawks taking an early 42-38 edge behind clutch free-throw shooting. Martin drained a 3-pointer with 1:27 left in the period to put the Lady Griffins up 45-44, but Hammond kept pace. With 20 seconds to play, Hammond freshman Margaret Adams hit the back end of a one-and-one to tie the game at 47. Martin then hit a 2-point basket with 7 seconds to go to give the Griffins the 49-47 final. Hammond’s Amoshia Blakeney put up one last effort at the buzzer, but the ball was short of the basket.

The Lady Griffins face Miller Grove (Ga.) in the tournament finals Saturday (Dec. 29) at 6 p.m.

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