Senior Lady Rebels end great AISA basketball run as Class A state title runner-up

Published 4:28 am Sunday, February 7, 2016

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By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
A great run for the Lowndes Academy senior Lady Rebels ended with a 45-38 loss to Patrician Academy in the AISA Class A State Basketball Championship game on Saturday, but not without leaving a mark on their school’s girls basketball history.
The Lady Rebels, who finished as 2016 runner-up in AISA Class A, Region 2 Basketball, were eight minutes away from claiming a third straight state basketball championship in AISA basketball in four years.
But their arch nemesis this season, the Patrician Lady Saints, the same team that defeated them by 2 points for the Class A, Region 2 title at Wallace Community College in Selma, staged a late comeback to down the Lady Rebels for the 2016 Class A State Basketball Championship at the Crampton Bowl Multiplex in Montgomery on Saturday.
The Lady Rebels led 15-6 in the first period, 23-20 at the half and 32-31 at the end of the third period. But the Patrician Lady Saints outscored the Lady Rebels 14-6 in the final eight minutes to win the title game 45-38.
While the tears flowed on their faces following Saturday’s contest, this year’s senior class of Lady Rebels had quite a run. In order from their freshman year, they finished as runner-up and champions in Class AA AISA basketball and as champions and runner-up in Class A AISA basketball.
Playing in the 2016 AISA Elite Eight State Basketball Brackets, the Lady Rebels defeated the Chambers Academy Lady Rebels 43-25 and the Lakeside Lady Chiefs 40-31 to setup a grudge match for the Class A state championship with the Patrician Lady Saints.
The Lady Saints defeated the Lady Rebels 56-46 in the regular season, 43-41 in the Class A Region 2 championship game in Selma and 45-38 for the Class A state championship in Montgomery on Saturday.
The Lady Rebels were led Saturday by senior Sarah Anna McIntosh with 15 points, senior Carmen Till and junior Abby Ray with 7 points each. And rounding out the scoring were sophomore Hannah Rogers with 2 points, senior Taylor King with 4 points and senior Morgan Renfroe with 3 points.
The Lady Rebels and Patrician Saints both shot 38 percent from the floor. The Lady Rebels shot 56 percent from the free throw line while the Lady Saints were 53 percent at the charity stripe. But perhaps the biggest difference in the game was that the Lady Rebels turned the ball over 13 times while the Lady Saints turned it over just six times.
Rounding out the senior class of the Lady Rebels are Emily Dunning, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and Laura Jean McCurdy.
Perhaps one of the best examples of the spirit of this senior class of Lowndes Academy Lady Rebels is Dunning.
When asked about the incredible run she and fellow senior classmates have had, Dunning said, “You know, we owe all our credit to God. That’s what we focus on every season… Let go, let God. Let God take control of that. That’s how you win. You have to give it to God.”
She said the Lady Rebels has the best chemistry as a team and love each other dearly.
Dunning said, “It’s hard being out. You know I wanted to be out there so bad. I wanted to be the one that helps. Maybe those extra points, anything I can do… I felt helpless. But I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished. I’m proud of the run. And we’ve definitely left our names in Lowndes history.”
Dunning said she hyper extended her leg and snapped her ACL into and will have surgery in June. However, she said, “I’m going to go out and play softball with my team. I’m going to go out with a bang, even if I tear something else. I’ve got to be with my team.”
Lady Rebels head basketball coach Jeff Lovell said of Patrician, “I know they’re a good ball team, no doubt about it. I think the second half they just made a few more plays than we did. We knew this game was going to boil down to who made the most plays, and they ended up making the most plays tonight.”
But Lovell said of his own Lady Rebels, “I couldn’t be more proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished. I know we play to win or lose a game, but from the spiritual aspect and some of the things that we’ve focused on this year… playing with heart and passion and the leadership that we have on this team, the influence they have on some of the younger kids… these seniors are amazing.”
He said, “It’s been a great ride for me. I’ve learned from them probably as much as they’ve learned from me.”
Lovell said of Saturday’s loss, “I know it hurts. I feel like I’m a dad to most of them. I treat them that way. But this is tough… It never gets old playing on the last day.”
He said Dunning’s absence from the team hurt not only from the physical standpoint, but from the leadership standpoint. He said she gave the Lady Rebels another inside presence and they lost some of their success on the boards there, which is where he said the team was hurt in the second half.
Lovell said of all his seniors, “The definition of a leader is someone that that influence somebody.” He said, “I never had to get on to them to push themselves in practice. I never had to get on to them to work hard. It was always a given. And it was understood. And this team, they played with heart and they fought until the end.”
The Lady Rebels closed out the 2015-16 season with an 18-6 overall record and runner-up for both the AISA Class A, Region 2 and Class A State Basketball Championship.
Named to the AISA Class A State Championship All-Tournament Team were Amber Kirksey of Sparta, Joiner Hughes of Lakeside, Carmen Till and Sarah Anna McIntosh of Lowndes Academy, and Bailey Reid, Tyler Armistead and Most Valuable Player Kelsey Lewis of Patrician.

The Lowndes Academy Lady Rebels came up short against Patrician for third AISA state basketball title. The Lady Rebels finished as 2016 Class A Runner-Up Saturday.

The Lowndes Academy Lady Rebels came up short against Patrician for third AISA state basketball title. The Lady Rebels finished as 2016 Class A Runner-Up Saturday.

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