Photo: Coosa Christian’s Bella Millirons (left) protects the ball from Appalachian’s Ella Cleveland during the Lady Conquerors’ 64-43 victory in the Class 1A subregional playoffs last Monday (Feb. 22) in Gadsden. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
For the first time in four years, the Coosa Christian girls basketball team will participate in the Northeast Regional Tournament.
The Lady Conquerors (23-3) dominated Appalachian in the second half on the way to a 64-43 victory in the Class 1A subregional playoffs last Monday (Feb. 22) in Gadsden. Coosa will host a regional semifinal game on Thursday against the winner of Wednesday’s subregional between Decatur Heritage and Valley Head. The winner of Thursday’s game will advance to the regional finals next week at Jacksonville State.
After the Lady Eagles hung close for much of the first half, Bella Millirons’ 3-point basket just prior to the intermission buzzer gave the hosts both a 28-19 lead and the momentum for the remainder of the contest. The Lady Conquerors led by double digits for most of the third quarter, and an 11-3 run at the start the fourth period appeared to take the wind out of Appalachian’s sails. The Lady Eagles managed only three field goals during the final eight minutes, and senior Chloe Davidson scored six of Coosa’s final seven points to ensure that one last basketball game will be held at The Coliseum this season.
“Lately we’ve struggled to close games, and we made that a priority tonight,” said Coosa head coach Jayme Hollingsworth. “We wanted to be dialed in and focused, and I thought we did a great job of finishing [Appalachian] off.”
Millirons finished with 19 points, followed by Davidson with 14 and Caitlin Cates with 12. Erin Snow added eight points, while Kailah East chipped in seven.
“Both Caitlin and Gemma stepped up for us tremendously over the past couple of weeks,” said Hollingsworth. “Erin has taken on more of a point guard role for us lately so that we can try to free her up a little bit. Bella had a really good game, and Chloe played well despite not feeling 100 percent. She’s as tough as nails.”
Sophie Latta paced Appalachian with 15 points, followed by Kayla Hawkins with 10 and Ella Cleveland with seven.
Latta scored eight of her points during the first quarter. Her 3-pointer in the closing seconds tied the game at 10-10.
Cates took over early in the second frame, scoring seven straight points to provide the Lady Conquerors with some breathing room. Appalachian drew within five points late in the period before Millirons banked in a trey as the halftime horn sounded, putting Coosa up 28-19.
“You always like momentum starting and end quarters, and that was a massive shot for us,” said Hollingsworth.
Millirons, East and Snow each knocked down a 3-pointer during the third period to help keep the Lady Eagles at bay, and Appalachian never mounted a serious threat down the stretch.
The last time Coosa Christian made the regional tournament was in 2017 during Hollingsworth’s first season as coach. That team was led by Davidson’s sister, Claire.
“It’s great to get that monkey off your back,” said Hollingsworth. “It’s a great feeling to get back to where we want to be every year.”