Demopolis (14-10, 4-2) nearly toppled area foe Selma Friday before an Ayana Moore steal and layup with nine seconds left spelled doom in a 40-39 loss.
The Lady Tigers carried a 6-4 lead out of the first quarter and then trailed for much of the night until a quick burst from Erica Bennett midway through the third quarter. Bennett connected on a turnaround off a Sylvia Clayton assist before draining a three off another Clayton assist just 30 seconds later to put her team up 19-16.
Those points would be the last scored by Demopolis until it erupted for a 20-point outburst in the fourth quarter. The Lady Tigers trailed 24-19 after the third period.
Scrappy play got Demopolis back in it. DeeDee White emphatically put her team back into the contest when she drained a triple off a Clayton pass to cut the deficit to 34-31 with two minutes to play.
Just 10 seconds later, Bennett went catch-and-shoot off Julie Rembert pass to tie the game at 34.
With 1:35 to go, Bennett struck again with a pair of free throws to make it 36-34. Clayton connected on a shot with 37 seconds remaining to put Demopolis up 39-35.
“I think it had a lot to do with our energy,” Demopolis coach Tony Pittman said of his team’s late run. “We came out in the fourth quarter with the mindset that we had to do something, we had to change the tempo. Our kids just raised their level of play and were able to be successful, get some easy shots and momentum picked up for us.”
The game began to turn when Selma’s Jamya Smith sunk a three pointer to put her team down 39-38 before Moore stole a pass just on her team’s side of half court and took it the distance for the game-defining play.
Selma did much of its damage on the night by turning defense into offense in a contest that saw the Lady Saints tally 22 steals as a team.
Bennett led Demopolis with 14 points, four rebounds and four steals. Ivery Moore had 10 points and five rebounds. White finished with nine points and four rebounds. Clayton contributed six points and four assists.
Smith had 12 points to lead Selma (21-4) while Areyanna Williams finished with eight point and seven rebounds.
The loss seals Demopolis as the No. 2 team in the upcoming area tournament that will begin Thursday at 5 p.m. in Selma when the Lady Tigers take on No. 3 seed Sumter Central.