With just 25 seconds remaining and down 42-41, Stephanie Kuhrt crashed through that door by throwing down a trey from the right side of the baseline and willed her team to a 44-42 lead. A dozen seconds later she added a free throw and teammate Victoria Davis tossed in a final point from the charity stripe with 2.5 seconds remaining and the Lady Tigers slipped by the Lady Wildcats, 46-42, in the non-region matchup between two cross-county rivals.
Head coach Meredith Barnhill said the Lady Tigers were able to put their loss the previous night to Cartersville behind them and turn in a winning effort against Woodland.
“Cartersville is tough. They have a lot of weapons that it’s tough for us to match up with. That was definitely not what we wanted to happen last night,” she said Saturday. “We bounced back today. We had some issues but Woodland had them, too. We did a good job, I thought, once we got settled into doing what we had to do.”
Woodland coach Kyle Morgan said the win was one the Lady Tigers earned.
“Credit goes to Adairsville down the stretch,” Morgan said. “They made some plays. We kind of left the door open there. We turned the ball over. We didn’t make free throws when we needed to. But overall I was proud of my kids. They played hard. We’ll continue to get better and hopefully we’ll have a big week next week.”
The clutch shot by Kuhrt was the icing on the cake for an Adairsville team that had taken a hard loss at Cartersville the previous night, 67-37. The Lady Canes had their defensive shoes strapped on early and forced turnovers and converted them into a lot of easy baskets.
Saturday, the Lady Tigers had their defensive shoes on early and also gave their offensive ones a good first-quarter workout.
Adairsville held Woodland to just eight points in the first quarter while scoring 16 — six of them courtesy of Mallorie Collum and four from Kuhrt.
But the Lady Wildcats had no intention of going quietly and opened the second frame with an 8-4 run that used three steals to tamp down the Lady Tigers offensively while yielding an easy layup and three points from the foul line, plus a Katie Harris 3-pointer that let them close to 20-16.
The Lady Wildcats used a 10-4 run the rest of the frame, highlighted by buckets from Ayrianna Metcalf, Sydney Boyd, Brooke Hummel and Aubri Branch. Kuhrt led Adairsville with four points in the quarter as the two teams went to the halftime break with Woodland up 26-24.
It took Adairsville all of a minute and 21 seconds to knot the score at 28-all in the third quarter and the lead seesawed back and forth the rest of the frame.
Woodland took the next crack at leading, as Boyd used a nifty left-handed layup to put her team up 30-28 that grew a point when Katie Harris tacked a single foul shot to the score. Kelsy Hice pulled Adairsville to within a point and Kuhrt gave them a 32-31 lead. Both teams added two buckets to close the quarter with the Lady Tigers up, 36-35.
In the final frame, Lexi Adams tallied a quick bucket but Hummel and Boyd answered with two buckets for a 39-38 lead. A bucket by Hice put Adairsville back on top, 40-39, and Boyd hit her second bucket of the quarter to put Woodland up, 41-40.
Kuhrt not only helped Adairsville win but also was a crowd-pleaser for other reasons.
“Stephanie is fun to watch. She’s tough to guard,” Barnhill said. “When she doesn’t force it, she is very tough to guard. Teams are figuring that out and they are keying on her defensively. Their defenses are working around what she does.”
The coach also singled out the play of Collum and Hice for Adairsville.
“Collum has had a really good senior season. She’s been pretty consistent for us,” Barnhill said. “She’s learning a lot. I feel things make a little more sense to her this year.”
She said Hice also has grown into a major contributor.
“Kelsy Hice has been showing up to play,” Barnhill said. “Kelsy is not one that’s been traditionally a scorer for us. She’s always been a pretty good defender and she’ll get in there and scrap. She’s understanding the offense a lot better. She’s understanding her role and she’s stepping up.”
Collum contributed to the Adairsville cause with 16 points and seven rebounds, Kuhrt dropped in 13 points with four rebounds and Hice added 10 points and five rebounds.
Woodland was led by Boyd’s 15 points, 11 by Hummel and eight by Harris.
Adairsville improved to 11-8 overall with the victory. The Lady Tigers next play Tuesday when they host Ringgold in a big region matchup. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
Woodland is 14-7 overall and returns to the hardwood on Tuesday, when it hosts Allatoona in an important region matchup for the Lady Wildcats.