REELTOWN – The Abbeville Lady Yellow Jackets came to Reeltown on Monday night determined to pull off an upset. Fortunately for the Reeltown faithful, Taniya Haynes and her teammates made sure that didn’t happen.
Haynes and her teammates put together a dominant third quarter of action and held off a late-charging Abbeville squad to take a 49-41 victory in the subregional round of the Class 2A state playoffs. Reeltown will return to action on Friday against the winner of Geneva County and Goshen at either 3 p.m. or 6 p.m.
“I just kind of felt like we were a little bit too tight (in the first half). I just told them at halftime, 'We've got to turn loose and play our game,’” Reeltown coach Will Solomon said. “We just felt a little bit too tight in that first half. The thing is, we got some points in transition and that helped. Kenzie (Hornsby) hitting the two free throws was big, and Diyanna (Newton), the senior, hitting that short jumper was really big for us.”
Reeltown (17-4) had an up-and-down first half of action and entered the third quarter trailing the Lady Yellow Jackets by two. Despite the lackluster start, the Lady Rebels put together eight solid minutes of play that set them up for a postseason victory.
The Lady Rebels pulled off a 15-2 run on Abbeville (6-14) in the third quarter fueled primarily by excellent shot selection and clutch rebounds by Makayla Langston and the rest of her teammates. Even after Abbeville managed to snap the scoring streak and get a basket of its own, Haynes drove under the basket and fired up an improbable shot with seven seconds left in the third to put her side up by nine points.
Reeltown had hoped to make the final eight minutes of action nothing but an afterthought, but Abbeville had other ideas and whittled the Lady Rebels’ lead down to 43-41 with a little under two minutes remaining in the fourth. At that point, several different Reeltown players stepped up to secure the win.
After Abbeville’s Jamya Glover drilled a shot off the glass to cut Reeltown’s lead to two points, Reeltown’s Trinity Coxson stepped to the free-throw line and calmly hit both of her shots. Makinna Gray came through with a defensive rebound on the next possession before getting the ball to Langston, who hit a layup with one minute to go to create a 47-41 contest.
Langston wasn’t done, either, as she came up with an offensive rebound with 37 seconds to go and connected on her put-back attempt to put the Lady Rebels ahead by eight.
As quickly as Abbeville had made it a game again, the Lady Rebels had squashed any hopes of a road victory.
“It was just hard-nosed defense in that fourth quarter,” Solomon said. “I told them once we took the lead that defense and taking care of the basketball is what's going to win the game for us.”
Haynes made play after play in the victory and ended the night with 14 points in addition to seven rebounds. Langston tied Haynes’ high mark with 14 points of her own and also chipped in a game-high 15 rebounds.
Solomon and his team are now playing the waiting game as they look to see who they’ll face off with on Friday and at what time. Even with those questions remaining, Solomon has no doubt about what the keys will be in order to keep their postseason hopes alive.
“We've got to just keep doing what we're doing,” Solomon said. “We're playing good defense, having fun and playing our game. We'll see who we've got after (Tuesday night). Then we'll start getting ready.”