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Regional finals: Red Bay girls advance with win over Altamont Knights

Red Bay survived a fourth-quarter surge by the Altamont Knights to advance to the finals of the Northwest Regionals, winning 36-28.

Red Bay was set to play the winner of Hatton versus Cold Springs Feb. 19 at 4 p.m.; results were not available by press deadline.

“I am really proud of these girls, and I’m so lucky to be a part of it,” said Red Bay coach Holly Kuykendall. “We got tired, and we got a little nervous down the stretch, but they were a tough and athletic team.”

Red Bay got the win, in large part, by doing a good job of finding center Destiny McCollister inside for some easy baskets. McCollister led the Tigers with 14 points, going 7-for-10 from the field.

“I thought we had a size advantage we could exploit,” explained Kuykendall. “We told Destiny before the game she should have a big game.”

Red Bay jumped out in front 5-0 early in the first quarter. Altamont tied the game 9-9 with 1:19 to go in the first quarter and took the lead 11-0 at the end of the quarter. McCollister scored six of the Tigers’ nine first-quarter points.

Red Bay reclaimed the lead, 14-13, with 4:54 to go in the first half on a three-pointer by Macy Faulkner. Altamont came back again to tie the game 16-16 with 1:25 remaining in the first half. The Tigers closed out the half with back-to-back scores by McCollister and Reagan Kuykendall to give Red Bay a 20-16 lead.

Neither team shot well, with both teams hovering around 30 percent from the field. The Tigers were 2-for-11 from the three-point stripe but outrebounded Altamont, especially on the offensive boards, leading to nine second-chance points.

McCollister still found a way to get the ball in the hole in the third quarter, scoring six of Red Bay’s eight points. Defensively the Tigers held Altamont to two points in the third period, giving Red Bay a 28-18 lead going into the third quarter.

Red Bay couldn’t put the ball in the basket for much of the fourth quarter, allowing the Knights to cut Red Bay’s lead to 31-28 with 1:32 to go in the game. The Tigers finally hit their first field goal at just the right time, when Faulkner found Kalee Markham underneath the goal for an easy basket with 1:10 to go in the game to give the Tigers a 33-28 lead.

McCollister said she was nervous going into the game but was glad to have Red Bay back in regionals.

“When Coach Kuykendall told me I should have a big game, it made me a little nervous,” said McCollister. “I am so glad we could get Red Bay back to Wallace. This is where this program is supposed to be, and we want to keep it going.”

Reagan Kuykendall followed McCollister in scoring with 11 points and five rebounds. Faulkner hit two three-pointers. Mallori Miller added five points.

Lila Blackburn led the Tigers on the defensive end with seven rebounds.

“Lila played a great defensive game for us,” said the Tiger coach. “She doesn’t get a lot of credit, but she really got after them tonight, doing a good job on their best player.”

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