Clarke Central took the lead early, and were up 14-10 after the first quarter. The Lady Lions battled back in the second to tie the game at 20-20 going into halftime. Lithia remained in the game despite playing most of the first half without Selena Crummie, who got into foul trouble early. With Crummie out, Lithia’s Shay Minnis managed to step up under the basket, grabbing five rebounds in six minutes of play.
In the third quarter, the Lady Gladiators again took command and advanced their lead to 39-35. The quarter could have been much worse if not for the play of Dannyel Richardson, who hit three 3’s.
The Lady Lions fought back in the fourth quarter but Clarke Central had a chance to win it at the end after a mistake by Lithia. The Lady Gladiators missed the shot, allowing LSHS to keep their season alive.
In overtime, Tashara Jones came out and hit a 3-pointer, which turned out to be the killing blow to Clarke Central. Lithia managed a 9-1 run in OT, pulling away with six free throw shots.
Defense was the key in overtime, led by Crummie, who for the game had 15 rebounds and seven blocked shots.
Jones led the offense with 18 points. Tobreshia Horn followed with 13. Richardson added 11 and Crummie ended with seven.
Lithia was strong from distance in the game, hitting eight 3’s, which made up for the poor shooting from the line. The team missed 11 free throws in regulation and another six in OT.
The Lady Lions are the second team in school history to win a state playoff game and the third team to finish with at least 20 wins.
LSHS will play in the second round of the state tourney on Friday when they travel to either Kell High School (ranked No. 1 in the state at AAAAA) or Stephens High School (No. 6).