Thursday night’s thrilling, come-from-behind 53-49 overtime victory against the Bibb County Choctaws, however, may need its own book.
Down by 12 points early in the fourth period, the Bulldogs rallied to tie the game at the end of regulation and send the game into overtime — where the team secured its win and become the first Carbon Hill girls basketball team to make the AHSAA Sweet 16.
“We played probably one of the worst games of our season tonight. It was almost like we were so hyped-up and ready to play that when the game started, we forgot how to play. We hadn’t seen Bibb County all year long and they were very tough to prepare for. Their athleticism and length hurt us — we missed too many free throws and made critical mistakes. But to our girls’ credit, we fought through it and made it in spite of our difficulties,” Carbon Hill coach Wade Tittle said. “Lindsay Fluker was a big difference-maker for us. She had four fouls in the fourth period, but she shined and helped lead us to victory. I’m proud of the girls for hanging tough and moving on so we can play another week.”
Caroline Dodd led the Bulldogs in scoring with 19 points, along with six rebounds. Fluker, turned in a spectacular double-double performance with 17 points, 10 rebound and a blocked shot.
Fluker stated that earning the victory to make the team’s first trip to a region tournament is the culmination of a long journey that began when she and the team’s other seniors, Meagan Bice and Mallorie Buzbee, were freshmen and wins were scarce.
“I came out in the fourth period in foul trouble knowing that I didn’t want my senior season to end. I wanted to play in the Sweet 16 and every member of our team wanted that, too. We were determined to make it, and together we are all going to Montgomery,” Fluker said, who scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half. “When I first started playing, we only won four games in my ninth grade year and we lost in our area tournament 100-25. Since then we’ve won the county tournament three years in a row, won our area championship and earned the right to go to the region tournament. It’s amazing.”
Bice also had a good night, scoring 10 points and forcing key Bibb County turnovers in the second half.
“It’s an experience that’s hard to put into words. From winning just a handful of games in my freshman year and having no one come out to watch our games, to fighting for our right to go to Montgomery in front of a big crowd who was here to support us is incredible,” Bice said. “Neither myself, Lindsay or Mallorie was going to let it end, here on our home court. Everyone fought as hard as they could for us to win this game. We deserved the victory.”
The Choctaws began the game on a 4-0 run before the Bulldogs would ultimately force a 10-10 in the final minutes of the first period. A three-point basket by Bibb County gave the Choctaws the 13-10 lead to close the period.
Bibb County extended its lead to seven in the second period after outscoring Carbon Hill 8-4 for the 21-14 edge going into halftime.
The Choctaws maintained control in the third period, holding a 17-12 scoring edge for the 38-26 advantage.
With six minutes remaining in regulation, the Choctaws held a 40-28 lead before the Bulldogs began their dramatic comeback. Carbon Hill would mount a 17-4 run that would culminate with a free-throw basket by Fluker to tie the game at 45-45 in the final 14 seconds of regulation and send the contest into overtime.
Carbon Hill took their first lead of the game with two minutes left in the overtime period, 47-45 and would not fall behind again, holding on for the 53-49 decision.
Carbon Hill (26-6) will take on the Childersburg Tigers (20-8) to open the Class 4A Central Region Tournament on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Alabama State in Montgomery.