By Summer Peters
Fairfield Bay News
For the first time in history, the Quitman Lady Bulldogs, are heading to the State Finals in Hot Springs. After a devastating loss in last years semi-final game, the Lady Bulldogs made sure that it wasn’t going to happen again. In front of an impressive home crowd, Quitman showed the discipline and determination worthy of a State Title.
Quitman’s first points of the game came half way through the first quarter with a bucket by Sophomore Nicki Hooten. As a seesaw battle ensued, Earle’s Sophomore Rashala Scott answered back with a 3-pointer. After some tough inside defense by Earle, Qutman senior Regan Rackley finally broke free down low for a jump shot and after an Earle turnover scored another jump shot to bring the score 8-6 with 2:44 left in the first quarter. A Quitman foul sent Alexandria Logan to the line for two, she missed the back end but Scott was there for the putback , putting Quitman trailing by five. A jump shot by Rackely and a couple of made freethrows by junior Rieley Hooten brought the ladies to within one at the end of the first quarter.
Quitman jumped ahead at the beginning of the second quarter with back to back scores by Rackley and Rieley Hooten to claim their first lead of the game. With 5:17 left in the half Earle’s Veronique Sanders tied the game with a 3-pointer. Rieley Hooten answered back with jump shot, but Earle wasn’t backing down, they scored back to back shots, including two freethrows to regain the lead 18-16. A big 3-pointer by Rieley Hooten put Quitman up by 1, with 2:26 left in the half. Earle hit back to back jump shots making the score 23-19 before fouling and sending Rieley Hooten to line for two. She sank both to send Quitman to the locker room at half trailing by two 23-21.
Although we do not know what Quitman’s Coach Tim Hooten says in the locker room during halftime, but Quitman always comes out with a fire in the third quarter. Saturday was no exception. Quitman’s strong defensive pressure held Earle to only five points in the third quarter. On combined baskets by Rackley, Rieley Hooten, and Nicki Hooten, the Quitman Lady Bulldogs outscored Earle 13-5. With 1:26 left in the third quarter Rackley rebounded a miss by Nicki Hooten and drew a foul sending her to the line for two which she drilled to place Quitman up by 6, 34-28 at the close of the third quarter. Nicki Hooten came alive, scoring 8 of her 12 points, in the fourth quarter. After a forced turnover by senior Lou Ella Garza, Rieley Hooten found Nicki Hooten on the fast-break for a layup. A series of Earle fouls and Quitman freethrows put Quitman ahead 43-34, the biggest lead of the game. Earle refused to back away with Scott scoring back to back, cutting the Quitman lead to five. Garza and junior, Aspen Johnson, combined for two freethrows and Rieley Hooten hit an inside jumper to make the score 47-38. Back to back 3-pointers for Earle cut the deficit to three, but with 6.1 seconds left in the game, Earle fouled Nicki Hooten, sending her to the line in the double bonus to shoot two. Those two made freethrows sealed the game for Quitman 49-44 and guaranteed their spot in the State Finals. Rieley Hooten led Quitman with 18 points. Rackley added 16 and Hooten 12. Rashala Scottled Earle with 18 points.
The Lady Bulldogs of Quitman are a special group of young ladies. It has been a privilege to watch them this season. We will see you in Hot Springs, Saturday, March 11, at 2:30 p.m. Good luck ladies, #takestate.