HUNTSVILLE — Clinton out-shot Scott High 26 to 10 from the free throw line in a Friday night showdown between the top two teams in District 4-3A.
But it wasn’t any of the foul calls that had Lady Highlander head coach Jake Wright shedding his sports jacket in frustration near the end of the game.
That came after Brittany Morrow dived to the floor to tie up the basketball with under a minute to go and Clinton was granted a time out.
Had the jump ball been correctly called, the possession arrow would’ve awarded the ball to the Lady Highlanders, who were down 45-44 with just over a half-minute remaining. The official on top of the play signaled jump ball, but a trailing official incorrectly awarded a time out to the Clinton bench.
By rule, coaches cannot call time out unless their team has clear possession of the ball.
With Clinton maintaining possession, the Lady Highlanders were forced to foul. The Dragons knocked down both free throws, and soon closed out a 49-44 win over the Lady Highlanders to secure the regular season district championship.
Wright said after the game that a member of the officiating crew explained to him that, if anything, a foul should have been called on Morrow.
That didn’t sit well with the Scott High head coach, who watched his freshman playmaker dive to the floor to cleanly tie up the ball.
Nevertheless, Clinton took the possession and held on for the win, its third of the season against the Lady Highlanders.
Sarah Burton finished with 25 points and Ally York added 12.
Scott High did not have a player in double figures. Zoey Terry, Riley Price and Alaina Duncan each had eight. Terry also had a team-high six rebounds, as did Morrow. Morrow had five steals, as well.
The Lady Highlanders trailed early, but battled back to take a 23-19 halftime lead in front of a large crowd that jam-packed Highlander Gymnasium and was loud and boisterous throughout.
It was Price and Terry who keyed the second quarter rally, with each of them scoring six points. Rachel Garrett added a 3-point basket.
The third quarter saw Alaina Duncan score seven points to keep the Lady Highlanders alive, although Clinton was able to battle back and tie the game.
York hit two key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Ultimately, though, the game was about the free throw line. Burton scored nine of her 11 second half points from the line. Clinton scored seven of its 13 fourth quarter points from the line.
The overall free throw count was 17 to 5 in the second half. Clinton finished with a 12-point advantage at the line, which was more than enough to determine the outcome of the game. In fact, Scott High had five more made field goals than Clinton, finishing with 18 shots made to the Dragons’ 13.
If the two teams are to meet for a fourth time this season, it will have to be in the district championship game, which will be played at Anderson County High School. The Dragons will face the host Mavericks in the semifinals, while Scott will face Halls.
The Lady Highlanders finish second in the regular season in district play, the program’s highest regular season finish in 25 years.
SCOTT (44): Terry 8, R. Price 8, Duncan 8, Morrow 6, Young 5, Garrett 4, Lawson 3, Lewallen 2.
CLINTON (49): Burton 25, York 12, Starnes 9, Burroughs 3.