Semifinal bound: Lady Rebels claw their way to the final four

Published 9:39 pm Friday, February 2, 2024

The Lady Rebels clawed, battled and punched for every second of Friday’s matchup against Pickens Academy with a trip to the semifinals on the line, and Chambers Academy is Montgomery-bound after a 50-46 win. 

The trip to Montgomery that the Lady Rebels are set to take did not seem to be in the cards earlier this season, but every girl in that locker room believed that this would be their destination. The Lady Rebels struggled to start the season but have won their last seven games and now have a shot at a state championship appearance. 

“It’s amazing,” Chambers Academy coach Jeff Hines said. “We finally got everybody together. We had players hurt, we had players sick, we had the coach sick, we had players suspended. We finally got everybody back about three weeks ago. This team has gelled. I’m so proud of them. I cannot express how proud I am of this team.” 

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The game came down to the waning moments after Kate Wilkins tied the game up for the Pirates on free throws with 1:58 left. The Rebels were unfazed as Madison Stanford quickly found Olivia Daughtrey under the basket for the go-ahead bucket.
Chambers Academy pushed the lead to four on a layup by MaKenzie Gilliland, but it was quickly cut to two as Wilkins found her way to the charity stripe again. Lizzie McManus finally put the nail in the coffin as she found her way into the paint for a layup with under a minute left. 

“I thought we kept competing,” a fired-up Hines said. “That’s one thing we’ve hung our hat on lately is that we’ve got to compete for 32 minutes. I’m just so proud of these girls. Nobody believed in them besides our little circle. Now, we’re going to the final four.” 

Olivia “OG” Daughtrey and Stanford led the way for Chambers Academy in the matchup with 17 points apiece. Gilliland added nine points for the Lady Rebels. 

“There’s no question OG has come a long way,” Hines said. “She’s got herself into shape because she was one of the girls that was hurt. She made Some big plays for us tonight. My little sophomore point guard, still learning, but she made some big plays. It’s just a team effort. We had kids that were cheering their guts out over here even though they didn’t get in the ballgame. It’s about a family.” 

The win on Friday means that Chambers Academy will travel to Montgomery on Feb. 7 to face off in the AISA 2A semifinal round against Sparta Academy.