Arab girls advance to county tournament semifinals

An antimated Brad Kitchens encourages his players before the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game.

The Brindlee Mountain girls basketball team led Arab 6-5 after one quarter of their meeting Tuesday in the first round of the Marshall County Tournament at Snead State.

But even then, Arab’s gritty defense and the Lady Lions’ carelessness with the ball indicated this would not be their day. The Lady Knights went on to a relatively easy 48-30 win after leading by a similar margin for much of the second half.

“Unbelievable,” a frustrated Brindlee Mountain coach Tony Mabrey said outside his team’s locker room after the game, referring to his team’s turnovers.

Arab’s stats indicated the Lady Lions committed 20 turnovers, though that seemed low. Mabrey twice called timeout in the first half to try to get his players’ attention.

“We’ve got more turnovers than shots,” he complained during the first timeout. With three seconds to go in the half, after yet another turnover, Mabrey walked off the floor early to the locker room.

“I couldn’t watch it,” he said later.

But as much as he was frustrated by his own team’s mistakes, Mabrey gave a lot of the credit to Arab’s players and coaching staff.

“They did a good job of scouting us,” Mabrey said. “They know we get a lot of our points in transition.

“They did a good job of defending the ball with their guards. It was a tough matchup for us. We were trying to force things and never got in a rhythm.”

Arab coach Brad Kitchens agreed, pointing in particular to the scrappy play of Bennett Elrod and Bryleigh Bodine, who were constantly on the floor fighting for loose balls.

Elrod had four steals and three assists and Bodine had seven rebounds and two steals.

“They did a heckuva job pressuring the ball out front,” Kitchens said of Elrod and Bodine.

They and others also did a great job taking those steals and getting the ball up the court quickly.

That led to good scoring games from inside players Sydney Ferguson and Laney Kelly, especially in the second half when Arab pulled away.

Ferguson, after a shaky start at the free throw line, hit her last seven in a row and finished with 13 points. Kelly scored seven of her nine points in the second half.

“I challenged Sydney at halftime and she responded,” Kitchens said. “She scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half and she scored or got fouled about every time she touched the ball in the second half.”

Kelly also came down with nine rebounds as Arab outrebounded Brindlee Mountain 32-27 as a team.

Another big factor was fouls. Brindlee Mountain committed 18 fouls and Arab made 18-of-27 free throws. Arab committed 11 fouls and the Lady Lions made just 1 of 6 free throws.

Kailyn Childress led the Lady Lions with seven points.

Autumn Abernathy twice gave Brindlee Mountain a boost offensively off the bench and finished with six points. Chantzley Kirkland and Kyleigh Wilks scored five each, Karli Westbrook had four and Adri Knepper three.

Bodine had six points and Elrod four for Arab. Kate Collins opened the game with a 3-pointer and finished with five.The Lady Knights advanced to Friday’s semifinals, where they will play Albertville at 6:15 p.m. Albertville beat Boaz 61-47 Tuesday.

Sarah Rutledge scored 29 for Albertville. Jazzy Roberts had 19 to lead Boaz.

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