By Deunte Marshall/Sports Correspondent
With the Class 5A, Area 12 championship on the line last Saturday, Shuntara Howard hit two free throws with eight seconds left to give the Lady Blue Devils a win 45-43 win over Boaz and a home subregional game against Fort Payne on Feb. 16.
Bri Aaron led Etowah with 25 points and won Tournament MVP honors.
“Winning the tournament is a big thing for us,” said Etowah head coach Ryan Fore. “These girls know how to battle and come out with these close games.”
Boaz used a strong low post game to attack the Lady Devils (18-11). An early 8-0 run by the Lady Pirates included a 6-for-6 effort from the charity stripe.
Aaron’s basket ended the Etowah scoring drought with 3:07 remaining in the first quarter. The Lady Blue Devils’ final score of the quarter came from Mary Cate Hereford, who drilled a trey from the corner with 1:24 to go. Boaz led 12-6 at the end of the frame.
The Lady Pirates continued to attack the paint, as Hannah Liverett scored inside with 6:40 remaining in the frame. The inside scoring of Liverett gave an opening to the outside for Carsyn McDowell, who nailed a three-point shot on the next Boaz possession. Etowah responded with four straight points from Aaron, and the Lady Devils ended the first half with a 9-0 run, capped by Shuntara Howard’s three-pointer that cut her team’s deficit to 21-19 at halftime.
Etowah held possession of the ball for the first three minutes of the third quarter, and after countless fouls, Aaron nailed a jumper at 5:27 mark.
Hereford gave the Lady Devils their first lead of the night a minute later with a pair of shots from the charity strip, and the teams entered the final quarter tied at 32.
Aaron made a jumper at 6:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, only to have Liverett score on a pair of free throws.
Boaz eventually went up by three points, but that advantage didn’t last long as Aaron came up big with her game tying three-pointer with 1:08 remaining in the game.
As both teams needed free throws down the stretch, Howard made hers to give the hosts the win.
Etowah went 9-for-16 (57 percent) from the free throw line, while Boaz connected on 22-of-34 attempts (65 percent).
Liverett led scorers with 32 points.
Joining Aaron on the All-Tournament team from Etowah were Howard, Hereford and Brooke Perry.