PREP BASKETBALL: Fairview comes from behind to upset Cherokee County and advance to Regional finals

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JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Fairview is back in the sweet 16 for the fourth time in five years but this year they had to travel to Jacksonville State University to compete in the Northeast Regional Tournament. The Lady Aggies lined up against the sixth-ranked Cherokee County Lady Warriors in a low-scoring affair and they had to come from behind to win it 51-45 late in the final quarter to punch their ticket to the Class 4A Girls Northeast Regional Finals.

Fairview got off to a slow start offensively and found itself in foul trouble early as well. Cherokee County built a 6-2 lead midway through the first quarter but a three-pointer from Payton Golden trimmed it to 10-7 later in the period. The Lady Warriors got a lot of chances from the free throw line early in the game and took a 12-7 lead into the second.

Back to back buckets from Jacy Gorham cut the lead to 12-11 early in the second quarter but Cherokee County converted an and-one play at the free throw line to make it 16-11 midway through the period. A three-pointer from Katie Ball cut the lead to 21-17 with just over two minutes in the half and that lead held for the Lady Warriors going into the break.

Fairview picked up 12 fouls in the first half, but Cherokee County was only able to knock down 8 of their 18 free throw attempts. That, combined with 12 turnovers forced by the Lady Aggies, kept Fairview in striking distance at the start of the second half.

The Lady Warriors stretched the lead to 25-19 early in the third quarter but a pair of free throws from Daisy Manasco cut the lead back down to four. A three-pointer from Molly McKelvy made it a 25-24 game midway through the third but Cherokee County answered with a 7-0 run to take a 32-24 lead with just under three minutes to play in the period.

Manasco stopped the run with a three-pointer of her own and cut the lead to five but the Lady Warriors responded with a three on their next possession. A pair of free throws from Golden trimmed the lead to 35-29 with less than a minute to play in the third and that score held until the end of the period.

Most of the final period was played at the free throw line. Golden netted two more free throws to make it a 35-31 game early in the fourth quarter and she added a layup later in the period to cut the lead to 38-36. McKelvy laid one in to give Fairview their first lead of the game at 39-38 midway through the fourth. Ball added two more free throws to stretch the lead to 42-38 and Manasco made it 43-40 with a free throw with just under three minutes to play.

A basket from Cherokee County cut the lead to 44-43 with less than two minutes to play but Gorham put the Lady Aggies back up by two with a free throw around the 1:00 mark. Golden nailed two more free throws to go ahead 47-43 with less than a minute remaining in the game and a Maddie Yeager free throw stretch the lead to five with 30 seconds to play. Golden netted two more from the charity stripe and that was enough to seal the deal for Fairview and the Lady Aggies will advance to the Northeast Regional Finals on Thursday.

Golden led Fairview with 16 points in the win, followed Manasco with 11, Gorham and McKelvy with seven and Ball with six. Fairview outscored the Lady Warriors 22-10 in the final frame. Both teams combined to shoot 70 free throws in the game.

The Lady Aggies are now 19-10 and will look to build off of a huge win on Thursday and clinch a spot in the state tournament when they take on seventh-ranked Anniston in the Northeast Regional Finals at 12:30 p.m.

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