Photo: Sardis High’s Caroline Johnson (left) drives past an Arab defender during the Lady Lions’ 47-30 loss in the Class 5A subregional playoffs last Monday (Feb. 13) in Sardis City. (Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter)
By Shannon J. Allen/Sand Mountain Reporter
The Sardis girls basketball team was denied a second straight trip to the Northeast Regional Tournament with a 47-30 loss to Arab in the Class 5A subregional playoffs last Monday (Feb. 13) in Sardis City.
Arab’s Bryleigh Bodine scored 17 of her game-high 19 points in the second half to propel the Lady Knights. Lily Livingston added 14 for Arab, which reclassified from 6A this season.
The Lady Lions finished the season at 27-6, tying the overall school record for most wins in a season set during their run to the Elite Eight last season.
Sardis never established an offensive rhythm, which prevented it from fully capitalizing on the advantage provided by a loud and energetic crowd that packed the home bleachers.
“We’ve been talking about this since June, that we kind of expected it to fall this way,” said Sardis head coach Heath Cullom. “We put them on the schedule because we thought this would be the game we would have to win. Coach [Brad] Kitchens did a heck of a job. Whatever he did for them this week, man, his girls were ready. They just played harder than us. The ball went in for them and it didn’t go in for us. We kind of got content on offense and couldn’t really find a rhythm. It just wasn’t our night, unfortunately on the worst night it could be that way.”
The Lions never led during the game. Arab (19-12) opened the game with Bennett Elrod’s 3-pointer. Sardis tied it 5-5 on Caroline Johnson’s free throw, but five straight points by Livingston, including a 3-pointer from the right corner, made it 10-5.
Arab was in front 10-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Maggie Chastain’s trey sent the Lady Knights to a 15-6 lead with 5:21 left in the second period. The Lady Lions responded with a 7-0 run, slicing their deficit to 15-13 on Kaylen Wallace’s free throw at the 2:48 mark.
Sardis pulled within 17-16 on Jayda Lacks’ basket off a nice assist by Kytha Edwards with 49 seconds on the clock, but Arab led 19-16 at intermission.
Bodine took over in the third quarter, scoring nine consecutive points for Arab. Her steal and layup made it 30-22 with 3:35 to go. Livingston’s jumper gave the Knights a 32-22 cushion with 2:33 remaining.
Edwards drained a three-pointer from the left wing, trimming it to 32-25 with 2:10 left in the third period. Arab owned a 35-26 advantage at the final rest stop.
Livingston’s three-point play extended the Knights’ margin to 38-26 with 7:47 remaining in the game. Edwards responded by scoring the next four points, trimming it to 38-30 on a free throw with 4:54 to go. Arab answered by outscoring the Lady Lions 9-0 the rest of the way to seal its victory.
Edwards led Sardis with 15 points and scored 13 of the Sardis’ 14 second-half points. Lacks contributed seven, followed by Johnson with five and Wallace with three. Sardis finished 8-of-19 from the free-throw line, while Arab went 12-of-17, including 5-of-5 by Bodine.
“We preach to leave a legacy, and this group has obviously done that,” Cullom said. “I’ve been coaching them since seventh grade. I think they’ve got somewhere in the ballpark of 128 wins. They’ve won five county championships and two area championships and been to the Elite Eight. Things that weren’t happening are happening because of this group, and it’s [because of] their work ethic.”