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Red Bay girls fend off Rattlers to advance to regionals

The Red Bay Tigers held off the Tanner Rattlers to advance to the Northwest Regionals for the first time in the Holly Kuykendall era. Kuykendall, who took over the Red Bay basketball program this season, credited the win to the brutal schedule her team has faced this year.

“I am so happy to be a part of this group of girls,” said Kuykendall. “I’m so excited for them. It was all them. They have played such a hard schedule this year. When you have to play teams like Deshler, Phil Campbell and Belmont all in one week, it could beat a lot of teams down. These girls have kept their heads high and battled those good teams, and I think it paid off for us tonight.”

Red Bay held a slim lead the entire game, but Tanner cut the lead to one point in the fourth quarter before the Tigers pulled off the win.

“It was a knock-down, drag-out game,” said Kuykendall. “We could have crumbled under Tanner’s pressure defense, but we didn’t. Game film doesn’t show you just how quick a team really is. They were quick and had a hand in our face and on the ball the entire game.”

Mallori Miller scored five points in the first quarter to help Red Bay to an early 7-4 lead. Destiny McCollister scored four points in the second quarter to help extend the Tigers’ lead to 16-9 at halftime. Red Bay led 26-19 going into the fourth quarter. Tanner cut Red Bay’s lead to 33-32 in the fourth quarter, but some clutch free-throw shooting – the Tigers went eight-for-11 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter – helped the Tigers fend off the Rattlers.

Red Bay will play Altamont Friday in the Northwest Regionals at Wallace State Community College. Game times were not available at press time.

The subregional win came after the girls grabbed the area championship, beating the Addison Bulldogs 41-40.

Area Championship

Macy Faulkner hit a three-pointer with six seconds to go to propel the Red Bay Tigers to the Class 2A, Area 13 championship. The Tigers trailed for much of the game but made a late fourth-quarter push to beat the Addison Bulldogs 41-40 and win the right to host Tanner in a subregion game Monday.

“We have had a tough schedule this year, but hopefully playing good teams and close games has prepared us for anything,” said Kuykendall. “We only have a few seniors. We are mostly sophomores, and most have never experienced post-season play. So they are excited about what comes next.

“This team is really close, and they have each other’s backs. I have felt so blessed to coach them.”

Rather than being over-excited about the game-winning shot, Faulkner was more relieved by the play of one of her teammates.

“I’m just thankful for Lila (Blackburn) saving me on the turnover I made before the shot,” explained the sophomore shooting guard. “This means a lot for this team to get to subregion and have a shot at going back to Wallace.  

“I think this was the biggest win since Coach (Donnie) Roberts left as coach. Coach Kuykendall has done a great job preparing us all year.”

Addison started the game hot, scoring 17 points in the first quarter. Miller kept Red Bay in the game early, scoring eight of the Tigers’ 12 first-quarter points.  

Both teams cooled off in the second quarter, scoring four points each. Addison led Red Bay 21-16 at halftime.  

Both teams played to a stalemate once again in the third quarter, scoring eight points each, giving the Bulldogs a 29-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.  

Red Bay found its shooting stroke in the fourth quarter, outscoring Addison 17-11, including Faulkner’s game-winning three-pointer, to give the Tigers the win and championship.

Miller led Red Bay with 13 points, followed by Faulkner with 11 points. Reagan Kuykendall added nine points, Blackburn four points, McCollister two points and Cassidy Kuykendall two points.