AHSAA - BIRMINGHAM - McGill-Toolen overcame a nine-point first-half deficit Thursday morning to beat Hazel Green 54-53 in the Class 7A girls' semifinal game at the 2016 AHSAA State Finals at the BJCC Legacy Arena. The victory sends Coach Carla Berry's Yellow Jackets (31-3) into the 7A state championship game for the second year in a row.
McGill-Toolen, trailing 30-21 at halftime, took its first lead 38-36 on a rebound and put-back by junior Shauntai Battle just before the buzzer as the third quarter ended. Ryann Sylvester's 3-point goal with 2:28 remaining staked the Jackets to a 50-46 lead. Shelby Hall's free throw with 17 seconds remaining stretched the lead to 54-49 and set up a dramatic Hazel Green rally at the finish.
Katelyn Howard came up with a key steal for Coach Tim Miller's Trojans (33-4) and sank a lay-up with six seconds left to cut the margin to three. Caitlin Hose got another steal with three seconds left and Hazel Green drew a foul on a 3-point shot attempt with 0.5 seconds remaining. The Trojans made the first two free throws but the second rolled off the rim.
Hall led McGill-Toolen with 18 points and three blocked shots. She was 4-of-5 at the foul line. Battle added 12 points and eight rebounds. Hose led Hazel Green with 12 points and Brooke Hampel had 10 plus five rebounds before fouling out late. Hose had two 3-pointers and teammate Lara Tanner nailed three.
McGill-Toolen will play in the Class 7A championship game Saturday at 4 p.m. at the BJCC Legacy Arena.
The 1A girls' and boys' finals will be tonight at 4 and 5:45 p.m. respectively. Classes 2A, 3A and 4A play girls' and boys' championships Friday while the State Finals conclude Saturday with Classes 5A, 6A and 7A championship games.
All semifinal games are being live-streamed by the NFHS Network and broadcast by the AHSAA Radio Network. All championship games will be televised live by Raycom Media. Details are at www.ahsaa.com.