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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Reeltown's Nyla Hayden (42) goes up for a shot against Brew Tech's Angeli'c Harris.

In a game of runs and momentum swings, Reeltown’s girls basketball team came up just short.

Despite having a huge start and going up by as many as 14 points midway through the second quarter, the Rebels knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park against Class 5A Brewbaker Tech in the girls championship of the Reeltown Holiday Tournament on Friday evening. 

And the Rams did exactly as Reeltown expected; they got extremely hot in the fourth quarter and eventually went up by as many as 16. Although the Rebels never backed down, their comeback fell just short in a 60-53 loss.

“I didn’t expect any less out of this group but it wasn’t just a battle in the fourth quarter,” Reeltown coach Will Solomon said. “It was a battle through all four and both teams competed until the very end. We’re not going to quit. We were down by 10 with about a minute left and we’re still getting rebounds and coming down and scoring. The effort that we had (Friday night) and the courage to fight back and play as a team, I’m very impressed.” 

Holding a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, Brew Tech’s Nina Johnson absolutely took off. She scored 13 points through the first three quarters but then doubled that with a 13-point effort in the fourth quarter alone. She scored the first bucket of the fourth with a putback then after a fast-break layup by Angel Dixon, Johnson nailed a 3-pointer. She poured in two more plus another layup as the Rams outscored Reeltown 19-4 in the opening few minutes of the final frame.

“She’s a really good player,” Solomon said. “And not only is a she a really good player and has a lot of skills on the floor, she’s also really smart. One of our players just mentioned that in the locker room that she was really proud of the way that we competed. Whoever was matched up on her did a good job of competing with her.”

But there’s only so much a team can do when an opposing player is draining 3s like she’s a leaky ceiling in a thunderstorm.

Despite Johnson’s hot hand, though, the Rebels weren’t about to go down without a fight. Reeltown went on a small run of its own, cutting a 59-44 deficit to just eight points as Makayla Langston hit two putbacks and a layup and Taniya Haynes added a free throw.

Brew Tech scored another free throw and Haynes hit one more layup in the final seconds but it wasn’t quite enough to overcome the fourth-quarter deficit.

“We’re not going to accept losing,” Solomon said. “We know all of us made mistakes (Friday night) that could’ve made a difference in the outcome, but the thing about it is the mistakes we made are correctable. Over the break, we’re going to work really hard and look at film and get those mistakes corrected.” 

Early on, the Rebels were on fire themselves. After trailing 7-2 early on, Reeltown took over for most of the rest of the first quarter. They scored 14 straight to take a double-digit lead. But the Rebels started moving a little too quickly and turnovers got the best of them in the second and third periods.

“At halftime I told them that you can’t ride a roller coaster in basketball; you have to stay composed,” Solomon said. “And that just comes with playing. As far as where we’re at in the season, we’re at a point where we’ve made some mistakes but we’re in a position where we can correct them before area play starts again.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.