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Late collapse costs Lady Rams

VALLEY — Its season was on life support midway through the third quarter. But the Valley High School girls basketball team fought to stay alive amid a double-digit deficit.

Ana Magby scored on a pair of coast-to-coast layups; Arteria Florence struck net repeatedly; Emerald Floyd hit a field goal.

The resurgence allowed the Lady Rams to enter the final period of Monday’s Class 5A sub-regional playoff game against Marbury trailing by only six points. Then, they collapsed.

Marbury (21-5) turned a close contest into a rout over the final eight minutes of action, capturing a 66-46 victory. The defeat ended Valley’s season.

“What’s haunted us all year long is having a bad quarter,” Lady Rams head coach George Grimes said. “We had opportunities. We let the moment take over us instead of us taking over the moment.”

Valley (11-12) entered the fourth quarter trailing, 43-37.  Led by Tay Cannon and MaKayla Cheeks, Marbury outscored the home team 23-9 down the stretch. Cannon finished with a game-high 27 points. Cheeks added 13.

“We got too uptight trying to do more than some of us are capable of in certain situations, just made bad decisions,” Grimes said.

Valley played relatively sound basketball through the first three periods. The Lady Rams deftly handled Marbury’s first-quarter press, limiting themselves to only a few turnovers.

Marbury held a 12-11 lead after the opening frame and took a 27-21 advantage into halftime. Valley and Marbury went back and forth in the second quarter before the visitors closed on a 6-0 run.

Marbury parlayed its momentum into the second half. The Lady Rams fell behind by 10 points after coming out of the break sluggish, but they regained their footing with about four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

That’s when Florence scored eight of her team-high 21 points. She scored seven more in the fourth quarter, but her production alone wasn’t enough to carry the team. Kenjadae Dunn finished with 11 points. Magby had 10.

Marbury advances to Friday’s 5A Central Regional at Alabama State University in Montgomery.

“We’ve got to get better as a team,” Grimes said. “We’ll grow.”