HANCEVILLE — Tanner High came out fast and strong, and let the first period dictate how the rest of the game would go. Starting off on an 18-0 scoring run, the Rattlers drove past Sulligent to a final score of 75-36 in the Class 2A Northwest Regional girls semifinals.
“When we get off to a fast start, we usually play pretty good, and I thought we had a real good first half,” Tanner coach Larry Greene said.
Building a mountain of a lead early, the Rattlers didn’t sit back. Kelsey Houston came out in the second quarter and sank three 3-pointers to keep the pace rolling, pushing to a halftime lead of 46-11.
“It’s hard because sometimes you want to let down and you think you got it put away, but then you never know,” Samara French said.
Tanner used the second half to build depth, resulting in 35 points from reserve players after the break. Sulligent boosted its game in the second half, putting up double digits in each quarter, but did not come close to breaking the Rattler’s stride.
“We were a little sloppy in the second half, but we were putting in a lot of different players, putting in a lot of different combinations to give everybody some playing time,” Greene said.
With Tanner’s losing season record of 14-16, the wash was not what anyone expected including French, Sydney Houston and Kelsey Houston. All three players answered “yes” when asked if they were surprised with the game’s start.
“We have sort of gelled in the last three weeks, we’ve really come together,” Greene said, explaining how Tanner ended the season against bigger, stronger competition, including James Clemens, Madison Academy and East Limestone.
“It makes you stronger because you play against people who are bigger and stronger than what you’re used to,” French said. “Then when you come down to ours, we know what to do and how to handle it.”
Tanner had three players in double-digit scoring, as Kelsey Houston led with 16 points, followed by Sydney Houston with 13 and French with 10.
Sulligent (20-11) was led by Hannah Hampton with 10 points and six rebounds, while Miracle Bonman and Brooklyn Noland scored six apiece.
Additionally, Tanner was boosted by a healthy lineup.
“It’s the first time in the first couple of weeks that we’ve had all of our players,” Greene said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries and we’ve had to use a lot of different combinations, play five or six games with five players.”
With the win, Tanner advances to face Cold Springs in the Class 2A Northwest Regional finals at 3:40 p.m. Friday.
Meredith Qualls can be reached at 256-340-2395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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