HANCEVILLE — Blair Woods had not yet seen the turnover column of her stat sheet Friday morning, and though she was obviously aware of the issue she still cringed at the damage.
“It was 25? Why did you tell me that?” the Muscle Shoals girls basketball coach said with an sheepish chuckle.
But there was no avoiding the topic after McAdory scored 29 points — nearly half its total — off 25 Muscle Shoals turnovers to beat the Trojans, 61-54, in the semifinals of the Class 6A Northwest Regional.
“What we do so well is we attack that very first line of defense, and we’re aggressive,” Woods said. “And I really don’t think we got into that today. We were kind of a little timid and played into their press, but that’s not what we normally do.”
McAdory (26-7) advanced to play Carver-Birmingham in Tuesday’s regional final.
Junior forward Sara Puckett, one of the state’s top junior prospects, led Muscle Shoals (20-11) with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
“She’s so tough to guard. She’s a great player,” McAdory coach Scott Blair said. “I’d say between her and (Spain Park’s) Sarah Ashlee (Barker) they’re probably the two best team players that we’ve played all year.”
K.K. Harvey added 10 points, and Samya Whiteside and Makiyah Horrison each scored nine.
Muscle Shoals took a 30-29 halftime lead thanks to good hustle from Harvey, who scooped up a loose ball and turned what looked like a doomed play into a go-ahead layup moments before the buzzer.
The Trojans scored the first six points of the second half, but then McAdory pounced and outscored the Trojans 18-7 the rest of the quarter.
The deficit ballooned to 57-44 before Muscle Shoals clawed back. Whiteside got a putback, eighth-grader Tamora Brown made a steal and foul shot and Harvey banked in a 3.
“We didn’t want to end the season,” Whiteside said. “A couple little errors. We just came up short.”
After a McAdory free throw, the Yellow Jackets led 58-50. Puckett and Brown made layups, but Muscle Shoals was shut out for the final 40 seconds.
The game featured eight lead changes. Muscle Shoals took eight fewer shots despite outrebounding McAdory 43-30.
Jamya Tyus scored 19 points and Kalyn Quicksey had 16 points and six assists for McAdory.
“I’ve just seen us really grow as a team and individually,” Puckett said. “A lot of people have stepped up, knowing their roles and just playing to it. I’m just really proud of how we’ve grown this year, and we’re just ready for next year.”
Starting point guard Fallon Haley and reserve Lexie Murray will graduate. Woods noted that many of her juniors had not played much at the varsity level before this year.
“But for them to battle through setbacks and obstacles and mistakes that they made just because they were inexperienced and to be here today, that’s huge,” Woods said.