Down to the wire
Alkedria Lewis scored only two points.
But her only basket couldn’t have come at a better time.
With 29 seconds left in regulation — trailing 43-42 — the Columbia guard nailed a clutch 15-footer to give the Lady Tigers a 1-point lead late.
Columbia would hold on for a 46-43 victory over Santa Fe on Senior Night.
The senior reserve came up big in the decisive moment — a fitting end for Lewis, who played her last home game Thursday night.
“It was perfect,” Columbia coach Sheena Carter said. “That was wonderful.”
Columbia captain Aumaria Kelly recorded 27 points and N’Quai Harper added 17 rebounds to help the Lady Tigers avenge an earlier defeat to the Lady Raiders last month.
Kelly scored 7 points in the fourth quarter, including a converted 3-point play, which cut the deficit down to one with 40 seconds left in regulation, setting up the dramatic finish.
“She always takes the team on her back,” Carter said of Kelly. “She’ll carry them however far she can take them. She’s very, very important to this team.”
The junior guard’s importance showed down the stretch for the Lady Tigers.
Columbia maintained a slim lead for the majority of the game until Santa Fe guard Tamaria Thomas’ steal and layup with a minute remaining.
Despite holding the Lady Raiders scoreless for four minutes in the third quarter, the Lady Tigers couldn’t pull away — leading at most by seven Thursday night.
After a tight first half, which included five ties and two lead changes, the Lady Tigers went into the locker room with a 27-25 advantage.
The back-and-forth continued in the third quarter. Thomas’ 3-pointer as time expired in the quarter locked the score at 37-37 heading into the fourth.
Columbia plays at Hamilton County on Saturday before a district tournament matchup against Vanguard at home on Jan. 27.
The Lady Tigers hope their momentum can carry into the postseason.
“I told them they have to play like that the whole game,” Carter added. “I still want us to get to point where we’re playing the same all game. We’ve just got to stay constant. That’s our main thing. If we can be constant, we’ll win.”