Lady Longhorns stumble in title game

MONTGOMERY — Marengo Academy (25-3) appeared to be fighting an uphill battle much of the night before succumbing to Lakeside’s second half pressure in a 54-45 loss in the AISA, Class A state title game Thursday.

Andrea Edmonds drops in a fallaway jumper Thursday night during Marengo Academy's state title game loss to Lakeside.

Andrea Edmonds drops in a fallaway jumper Thursday night during Marengo Academy’s state title game loss to Lakeside.

“We had a hard time catching up with (Lakeside point guard Jasonie Guice) and (Lakeside center Kasey Grant),” Marengo head coach Danny Stenz said. “Give them credit. They’re good. They haven’t won three titles for nothing.”

The Lady Longhorns managed a 13-8 second quarter run to give themselves a 22-21 halftime lead, before Lakeside turned its first half 2-3 zone look into a series of traps and presses to mount an 11-6 third quarter advantage.

The Chiefs’ four-point lead quickly became nine as they knocked down a pair of free throws with 5:08 to play that put the Lady Longhorns down 41-32.

“Basically, just settle down,” Stenz said of what he told his team during a timeout call as it faced a nine-point hole. “We were panicking a little bit again. It seemed like we’d get close and we couldn’t get a stop on the defensive end.”

Less than two minutes later, however, Marengo Academy showed signs of life as it cut the deficit to 43-37.

The Marengo climb continued with 1:41 to play when Brooke Smyly drained a pair of free throws to put MA down 49-44.

Just 30 seconds later, the Lady Longhorns had an opportunity to pull within two before missing two out of three free throw attempts to leave the deficit at 49-45. The Longhorns then whiffed on another opportunity as a three-point attempt that would have left it a one-point ballgame caromed off the iron.

Marengo’s last opportunity to make a game of it went by the wayside with 18.2 seconds left when Lakeside missed a pair of charity stripe chances and managed to run down its own rebound.

“It’s a great accomplishment for them,” Stenz said of his team’s 25-3 mark and championship game appearance. “We’ve never been that far in varsity basketball. We’ve got almost everybody coming back next year. We’re going to work hard and try to get back to the same spot, hopefully come out with a different outcome.”

Chandler Stenz led MA with 19 points and three steals. Smyly added 10 points, five rebounds and three assists for the Lady Longhorns. Andrea Edmonds finished with eight points and 12 rebounds.

Stenz and Smyly earned All-Tournament honors for their play in the three-round bracket.

Grant, the tournament MVP, led Lakeside with 19 points. Guice finished with 13 for LS while Kayla Mullis added 10 and Mary Linda Spivey finished with nine.