Lions top Wildcats in double overtime

By WESLEY HALLMAN / Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY — Forgive Briarwood Christian School girls’ basketball coach Jim Brown for his bad memory in two overtime sessions in the Lions’ 65-61 double-overtime win over visiting Shelby County in a Class 5A, Area 7 contest Jan. 13.

Possessions went by pretty fast for Brown, who saw the Wildcats erase a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to send the game into its first overtime.

“I’m not sure how much I remember,” Brown said. “Overtime was a little bit of a blur.”

After 39 minutes of basketball, Brown saw sophomore point guard Abbie Cutcliffe step to the charity stripe and knock down two free throws in the final seconds to seal the win for the Lions. Cutcliffe’s free throws clinched Briarwood Christian’s 20th consecutive win in area games over the past three seasons.

Brown praised Cutcliffe, who moved from shooting guard to point guard to replace injured starter Cara Medders, for helping the Lions hold off Shelby County down the stretch. Cutcliffe finished with eight points in the victory, including four points in the two overtime sessions.

“It’s tough,” Brown said. “That’s a lot of pressure. (Cutcliffe) handled it well. She got really determined and knocked down the free throws like it was easy in overtime.”

Anna Handlin led Briarwood Christian (17-3 overall, 4-0 in Class 5A, Area 7) with 21 points.

Meredith Botes and Hannah Wainwright added 13 points each. Emily Miles contributed six points. Marie Tucker and Elizabeth Scott chipped in two points each.

Aulicia Nunn led Shelby County (12-4 overall, 2-3 in Class 5A, Area 7) with 20 points.

Alexis Lewis chipped in 18 points. Alysia Perkins finished with 14 points.

Hallie Brown added six points. Amber Johnson finished with three points.

Shelby County opened the game with a 12-0 run to take a commanding lead early in the first quarter. Briarwood opened the second quarter with an 8-2 run to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 23-21 following a 3-pointer by Wainwright.

Botes’ layup gave the Lions their first lead with 47 seconds remaining in the first half at 27-26. Nunn scored a basket with 14 seconds left in the second quarter to give Shelby County a one-point lead heading into the locker room at halftime.

Briarwood took control of the game in the third quarter, as the Lions outscored the Wildcats 22-10 in the period. Scott’s basket at the buzzer gave Briarwood a 49-38 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Handlin’s layup early in the fourth period gave the Lions their largest lead of the game at 53-38. Shelby County, which held Briarwood scoreless in the final seven minutes of regulation, finished the game on a 15-0 run to tie the game at 53-53 following a jumper by Nunn.

Wainwright’s basket with 43 seconds remaining in the second overtime gave the Lions the lead for good.

Brown said he wasn’t surprised to see the Wildcats erase a substantial fourth-quarter deficit.

“I really felt like they were going to make a run,” Brown said. “I didn’t think (the 15-point lead) would continue. They’re just too good.”