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Thorsby wraps up area title

The Thorsby girls basketball team won the 2017 Area 9-2A championship with a nail-biting 47-44 victory over Billingsley on Thursday.

“Both teams went at it hard, and that’s the kind of basketball that you like to see,” Thorsby head coach Leighsa Robinson said.

The Rebels hosted the tournament after earning the No. 1 seed and continued the success that led to an undefeated regular season record against area opponents.

Neither team was able to separate themselves, as the lead rarely grew beyond five points.

Contributions off the bench were the difference in the game for Thorsby, as Emily Jones scored the final four points of the first half with a layup and jump shot that gave the Rebels a 23-17 halftime lead.

Jones continued to be an added presence on the boards throughout the game.

“She hit some baskets and got a few rebounds at points when we needed it,” Robinson said. “We worked real hard this past week on rebounding and boxing out, and it showed tonight.”

Jones was not the only young player that stepped up for the Rebels, as sophomore Hannah Smith showed a calm nature with the ball in her hands late in the game.

“When you can play in the area championship game and contribute, it makes for a good future,” Robinson said.

Since the beginning of the season, Smith has been thrust into a more involved role as a guard on the team. It is evident that as the season has progressed, her confidence has grown.

“It was really hard trying to fill those shoes,” Smith said. “It required me to work extra hard this year, and I just kept my head up along the way.”

Smith finished with four points, all in the fourth quarter, including a pair of clutch free throws that made it a two possession game with seven seconds left on the clock.

The possibility of a Billingsley comeback still existed after Kenzie Glass was fouled on a three-point attempt with 1.9 seconds remaining. However, she converted on two-of-three from the line and Thorsby rebounded the ball as the horn sounded.

Glass and Lily Barnett of Thorsby traded baskets and helped fuel each of their team’s offenses at various moments in the game

Barnett finished with 20 points to lead the Rebels, while Glass had a game-high 23, including four makes from beyond the arc.

“I stay after practice and shoot, because my team depends on me to be able to shoot the three and make it,” Glass said. “The hard work pays off eventually.”

The win was the third straight area title for Thorsby girls basketball and the second consecutive with Robinson as head coach.

The Rebels will host a playoff matchup on Feb. 13 against Ranburne or Vincent. The results and game time were not available at press time.

“It means a lot to get the chance to play one more time on our home court,” Smith said. “To play one more time with our seniors, means the world to us.”