Oak Mountain’s season ends with heartbreaking buzzer beater

Published 8:49 pm Thursday, February 7, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HOOVER – Sports can be so cruel. No matter how much energy and work you put into a game, it can always break your heart.

That’s exactly what happened to the Oak Mountain girls basketball team on Thursday, Feb. 7, when the Eagles traveled to Hoover High School to take on Tuscaloosa County in the first round of the area tournament.

With their season on the line, Oak Mountain’s players did everything they were supposed to by laying it all on the line and giving every ounce of energy they had.

Unfortunately, with less than 10 second remaining, and coming out of a timeout, the Wildcats found an open shooter in the corner, who proceeded to drain a buzzer-beating 3-pointer over the outstretched hand of the defender to end the Eagles season in the most heartbreaking way possible.

Oak Mountain couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game than the one it got thanks to Clara Fuller and Hannah Edwards.

Those two created a strong inside-out duo as Fuller caught fire from beyond the arc, while Edwards took advantage of her height in the post, making it difficult for Tuscaloosa County to stop both.

The Wildcats wanted to double Edwards early, but Fuller knocked down the first basket of the game and it was from beyond the arc, which forced them to have to guard out there as well.

Edwards made them pay and put back-to-back easy post shots in off the back board to give the Eagles a 7-4 advantage in the early going.

Tuscaloosa County tied the score at 7-7, but that was quickly followed by back-to-back 3-pointers from Fuller, which gave the Eagles a lift in intensity.

Thanks to a couple more baskets from Edwards, Oak Mountain was able to end the quarter on a 12-2 run after the 7-7 tie to take a 19-9 lead into the second quarter.

While the opening 3:40 of the second period went by slowly, the Eagles eventually continued their strong offensive play.

Thanks to two more 3-pointers, one from Fuller and one from Emily Cruce, Oak Mountain was able to go on a 10-4 run in the frame to extend its lead to 29-13 at the half.

At the half, however, Tuscaloosa County had to make a choice—make adjustments or have its season come to an end.

And with the momentum of continuing their season, the Wildcats made drastic adjustments.

They started the third quarter on a 7-0 run before a technical foul looked like it may stop the run.

While the Eagles made both free throws, Tuscaloosa County answered with an and-1.

Edwards hit three more free throws for Oak Mountain to close out the quarter, but the Wildcats scored four themselves as they had done plenty of damage to get back in the game going to the fourth down 34-27.

The final quarter was the action-packed game you want as a fan of the game with a season on the line, and both teams started with some fight.

Both teams had an and-1 in the first two minutes of the quarter, which really set the tone for the hard fight ahead.

Oak Mountain eventually took a 39-32 lead off of Kailey Rory’s and-1, but that was answered by a 7-0 run from the Wildcats to tie the game at 39-39.

They then took their first lead of the game at 42-39 with another and-1, but that was followed immediately after with an and-1 from Edwards to tie the game with 3:40 left to play.

The two teams continued battling hard down the stretch and eventually got to the 46-46 tie with 1:20 left after Rory hit a big layup.

Then, in the final 46 seconds, Tuscaloosa County and Oak Mountain both got possessions, but both turned the ball over after getting second looks at the basket.

Eventually, the ball ended up in the hands of Tuscaloosa County with 11 seconds left, and the Wildcats capitalized by sinking the game winner.

Edwards led the Eagles with 22 points thanks to eight field goals and a 6-7 mark from the free throw line, while Fuller added 12 points. Rory’s Oak Mountain career came to an end with a hard-fought five points in the final quarter trying to extend the season.

Oak Mountain’s girls ended the season with a 15-12 overall record, but more importantly an effort to be proud of.