Hayley Rogers turned Hagerstown’s fortunes around in a hurry.
The Tigers trailed Centerville most of Friday night, until Rogers’ spurt of four points in about 5 seconds gave Hagerstown a shot at a three-peat when it comes to titles in the Wayne County girls basketball tournament.
Rogers made a go-ahead layup with 8 seconds remaining, then immediately made a steal and another lay-in to virtually put away a 39-37 victory for the Tigers.
Hagerstown advances to tonight’s 6 p.m. championship opposite Lincoln. The Golden Eagles defeated Northeastern 36-28 on Thursday’s opening night.
“After I scored the shot, I thought the girl was going to throw it right back in,” said Rogers, who finished with game-highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds. “I just put it back up.”
And put Hagerstown on the way to defending its back-to-back county championships.
The past two seasons the Tigers won those titles over Centerville in the final. This is the first time since 2008 the championship won’t feature a Tigers-Bulldogs matchup.
The ending was typical of these two teams, though — down-to-the-wire with last-second heroics.
Rogers’ first lay-in gave the Tigers a 37-36 advantage that she quickly made 39-36. Centerville’s Morgane Chenowith hit a free throw to make the final score.
“It seems like this game always does that,” said Centerville coach Jason Searcy. “We usually either come out happy or sad.
“We had our opportunities, and you have to learn to finish at the end of the game.”
Centerville took a 2-0 lead on a pair of Ally Moore free throws at 7:17 of the first quarter, and kept that lead until Rogers’ basket in the final seconds.
The Tigers never let that lead get too great, though. Centerville led 21-15 at halftime and 26-23 after three quarters.
The third quarter was especially critical. Hagerstown held Centerville to five points then, all on free throws.
“Absolute perseverance,” said Hagerstown coach Chris Oliger. “They never give up. This win is huge for us going forward.”
Madison Houck added nine points and seven rebounds for the Tigers, who trailed by as many as seven, 34-27, after a Centerville basket by Makayla McFarland with 4:18 to play.
McFarland paced the Bulldogs with 11 points and five rebounds. Moore scored nine points, Alexis Fields had eight points and six rebounds, Kayla Miller grabbed six rebounds and Chenowith five for Centerville (5-6).
The Bulldogs and Tigers have clashed in the past four county finals, with the teams splitting. Hagerstown won the past two, and Centerville went on to win a Class 2A sectional last season after stopping the Tigers in the final of that tournament.
“We just have to take it, look at it and learn from it,” Searcy said.
Rogers scored the final nine of her team’s points, and freshman Gabby Willis provided a vital driving layup in the fourth quarter.
“I had faith in everybody. I had faith we could come back and win,” Rogers said.
This is the sixth consecutive finals appearance for host Hagerstown (7-5).
Lincoln (7-5) was last in the championship game in 2008, when the Golden Eagles topped the Tigers 40-36.
“We’re going to go out there and we’re going to give the same kind of effort,” Oliger said of tonight’s game. “What a great coach John Lewellen (of Lincoln) is. He’s got them playing well. It’s going to be a dogfight. It’s going to be another great county tourney game.”