‘Good’ OC gal is great in clutch

‘Good’ OC gal is great in clutch
‘Good’ OC gal is great in clutch
When you’ve got a good horse, you ride her.
Obion Central saddled up prized filly Brandi Goodman for a heavy workload that included 34 points, 20 rebounds and a half-dozen blocked shots as the third-ranked Lady Rebels outlasted Bolivar 71-65 in overtime Friday in the Region 7-2A Tournament quarterfinals.
Goodman’s thoroughbred-type performance helped OC move within one more victory of a spot in the Region 7-2A championship round and a sectional berth — the stakes for tonight’s 6:30 matchup with No. 7 Liberty at Dyersburg High School.
Central (32-4) beat Liberty (26-4) in an earlier meeting, 54-45, in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Troy.
Goodman, the District 13AA regular season Most Valuable Player with averages of 18 points and 13.5 caroms per game and a long list of double-double performances, more than pulled her weight for OC on Friday, which won its 16th straight game and set a school record for most victories in a single season.
And the Lady Rebel hoss was at her best when her team needed her the most.
Dominating the low post with her 6-2 size despite consistent double-teaming and a sagging Bolivar defense, Goodman scored 10 of Central’s 15 total markers in the four-minute extra session.
Her old-fashioned 3-point play off a low-block move gave OC the lead for good (59-56), 30 seconds into the overtime.
Goodman then scored off a feed from teammate Macy Wright and sank 3-of-4 free throws over the next 21⁄2 minutes to give her team a 66-58 lead while the Lady Tigers were missing seven consecutive shots from the field.   
Before that, she accounted for all 10 of the Lady Rebels’ second-quarter points when she was Obion Central’s lone semblance of offense.
“We just decided that with Bolivar’s (lack of) height — even if we had to force it — we were going to go inside to Brandi as much as we could,” Central coach Lyle LaRue said after the contest. “They had so much defensive quickness that they could sag to the post and still get outside to cover the perimeter if we kicked it out, so we just decided that pounding it inside and at them was our best bet.
“And Brandi had a whale of a game.”
Bolivar (19-10) em-ployed its superior quickness on both ends of the floor and actually held the game’s largest lead at 44-35 with 2:45 left in the third quarter when Kendra Williams (31 points) capped an 18-5 run over a four-minute span.
But OC — which struggled some in that third stanza with multiple misses from the perimeter when Goodman was cut off inside — weathered the storm when Wright and Paige Hicks bottomed 3-pointers and Wright scored off a give-and-go from Goodman to draw within 44-43.
Another Hicks trey to open the fourth quarter forged a 46-all deadlock before a Mackenzie Tucker bucket put the Rebel girls back up by a deuce briefly.
The remainder of regulation was nip-and-tuck with Tucker taking a feed from Goodman and scoring to make it 56-all with 44 seconds to play and setting the stage for a tense final Bolivar possession.
The Lady Tigers held the ball for the final shot, but Williams’ running 12-footer was long with two seconds showing, making the four-minute overtime necessary.
“This was the best team we’ve played all season,” a relieved LaRue continued. “They’ve got three players who will sign college scholarships and four more athletes who fill in around them.
“I thought the real key for us was switching defenses against them. You can’t just stay in one defense the whole game, because they’ll ultimately figure it out and find a mismatch. We knew when the brackets were finalized that there would be two very good teams for us to go through if we were going to make it to the sectionals.”
One down, another to go.
Tucker finished with 12 points and Hicks 11 to join Goodman in double figures. Tristian Terry made six big free throws in eight attempts during critical junctures for a team that was otherwise sub-par (14-for-24) overall.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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