ADAMSVILLE The Riverside girls had the ball with 25 seconds to go and a one-point lead.
For Middleton to stay unbeaten, the Lady Tigers needed a steal, a missed free throw or just something to go right.
Middleton got that steal and junior Alexis Pledge was open on the right wing. Pledge received the ball and attacked the basket for a lay-up with seven seconds remaining to send the Lady Tigers to the 66-65 double-overtime victory over Riverside in the District 15-A championship at Adamsville.
“When we got the steal, I didn’t know who was going to get the ball,” Pledge said. “When I got it, I had to make the lay-up. I am just speechless.”
Middleton (28-0) and Riverside (20-8) will both host Region 8-A quarterfinals on Monday at 7 p.m.
Middleton struggled through a slow start as Riverside stopped the Lady Tigers from working the ball into the post.
“The biggest thing was how we started,” Middleton coach James Burkley said. “We did not have the energy that we needed. The officials called a great game by letting us play.
“We have some things that we have to get taken care of like being alert on tips and screens.”
Class A Miss Basketball finalist Averyale Joy scored 11 of her game-high 23 in the first half to pace the Lady Tigers and keep them in the game. Rachelle Parks added 18 points for Middleton.
“They are just like us,” Joy said. “They press, have speed and all five players can play.
“No one was taking charge, so I knew that it was my job.”
The Lady Panthers kept fighting and dominated the third quarter (11-2) to take a six-point lead into the fourth quarter (40-34).
Middleton played tougher defense early in the fourth quarter and held Riverside to no baskets in a 5:30-minute span, but the Lady Tigers couldn’t convert on the offensive end.
“We started the second half with a missed lay-up, and then they hit a 3-pointer,” Burkley said. “We were down one instead of up five. We missed some shots, and that kept them in the game. We could never pull away.”
Bree Linton led four Riverside scorers in double figures with 21 points.
Dakedra Mason hit two free throws and a lay-up to give Middleton the 53-50 lead with 18 second remaining in regulation, but a 3-pointer by Riverside’s Lasha Scott (13 points) sent the game to overtime.
Two missed free throws by Middleton with five seconds remaining in the first overtime gave the teams four more minutes to play.
Freshman Deidre McElrath hit a lay-up with 46 second left in the second overtime to give the Lady Panthers the 65-64 lead, but it was Pledge’s late heroics that made the difference.
“We just had to stay up,” Joy said. “We are going to go through hard times in a game, but we have to stay up.”
Scotts Hill 54
Trinity Christian Academy (19-12) jumped out to a 28-11 lead after the first quarter to cruise to third place in District 15-A.
TCA hit eight 3-pointers in the first half to aid the early lead.
Sophomore Brynne Lytle scored 22 points to lead TCA, and she scored her 1,000th point early in the fourth quarter. Haley Hathcock added 14 points.
Scotts Hill (15-13) was led by Katie Wyatt with 14 points, while Melanie Alexander added 10 points.
TCA and Scotts Hill both travel to Memphis on Monday for region quarterfinals beginning at 7 p.m.
Michael Odom, 425-9754