PREP BASKETBALL: Arab punches ticket to 5A State Finals with 52-49 win over Brewbaker Tech

Arab defeated Brewbaker Tech 52-49 Wednesday night to advance to this year’s 5A Girls State Finals. (Gary McGriff)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Arab made its way to Legacy Arena at the BJCC Wednesday night for a 5A Girls Semifinal clash with Brewbaker Tech and the Arabian Knights advanced to the state finals in dramatic fashion. The Rams knocked down a three with 10 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game at 49 but Maggie Chastain buried three free throws with 2.2 seconds on the clock to seal a 52-49 victory for Arab.

Baskets by Bryleigh Bodine and Bennett Elrod put Arab in front 4-2 early in the opening period but Brewbaker responded and pulled ahead to a take a 7-4 around the four-minute mark. Maggie Chastain knocked down a three-pointer to tie the score at 7 but the Rams continued to answer on the other end and put together an 8-0 run to take a 15-7 lead with less than two minutes to play in the first. Neither team got any more points on the board in the final minutes of the quarter and Arab went into the second trailing by eight.

Sydney Ferguson split a pair of free throws to make it a 16-8 game early in the second quarter and Elrod buried a three to cut the lead to 16-11. Ferguson laid one in to make it 16-13 midway through the second and she followed it up with a three-pointer later in the period trim Brewbaker’s lead to 18-16. Elrod scored back to back baskets to hold the lead to 21-20 with just over a minute remaining in the first half. The Rams got one more shot to fall in the final minute of the quarter and the Arabian Knights went into the locker room trailing 23-20 at halftime.

Ferguson drilled a three to start the third quarter and tie things up at 23 and on the next Arab possession, Laney Kelley laid one in to give the Knights a 25-23 lead, their first since the start of the game. Chastain kept the momentum going with back to back three-pointers and moved Arab out in front 31-25 midway through the third. A Ferguson free throw made it a 32-27 game and Lexi Mann scored inside with a little over a minute to play in the period to keep the Knights in front 34-29. Bodine drove to the basket and scored in the final moments of the third and Arab went into the final frame with a 36-31 lead.

Ferguson laid one in to start the fourth and make it a 38-33 game but Brewbaker wouldn’t go away and was able to tie the game at 38 midway through the period. Ferguson sank a pair of free throws to put the Knights back in front 40-38 and another Bodine basket kept them ahead 42-20 with three minutes to play. Chastain drained a three make it 45-40 and Ferguson tacked on two more free throws to give Arab a 47-42 lead with two minutes on the clock. Elrod got a jumper to fall with 40 seconds remaining to keep the Knights ahead by five but once again, the Rams responded and rallied to the game at 49 with 10 seconds to play in the fourth. It looked like we were headed to overtime but Arab broke the Brewbaker press to get the ball up the floor and Chastain was fouled on a three-point attempt with just 2.2 seconds on the clock. Chastain stepped up to the line and buried all three free throws to give the Arabian Knights a 52-49 win and punch their ticket to the 5A State Finals.

Ferguson led Arab with 16 points in the win, followed by Chastain with 15. Elrod added 11 points and Bodine finished with six points and a team-high eight rebounds.

The Arabian Knights will return to Legacy Arena Saturday morning at 9 a.m. to face Pleasant Grove in the 5A Girls State Championship Game.

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