A North Cobb girls basketball team that was in the midst of its first rough stretch of the season was on the verge of losing for the fourth time in seven games, falling into a tie for second place in 4-AAAAAA and perhaps dropping out of the Class AAAAAA top 10 for the first time this season.
Then Briah Woods stepped to the free-throw line.
The junior forward made three consecutive attempts with one-tenth of a second remaining to send the game to overtime, and the Warriors went on to a 75-70 victory in double overtime at Hillgrove.
“I feel like I lost about five pounds out there,” North Cobb coach Matt Williams said. “It was an exciting game. I think both of our teams have been struggling a little bit, but we both played hard. We just had some things happen late in the game that were big for us.”
Seventh-ranked North Cobb (16-3, 9-1) holds a half-game lead over No. 8 Hillgrove (14-5, 9-2) and a game lead over No. 9 McEachern (10-7, 8-2) in the region. North Cobb won three of the four games against its closest pursuers and doesn’t play either again in the regular season. Hillgrove and McEachern will play at Hillgrove on Jan. 25.
Woods’ shots were part of an amazing game-closing run by North Cobb at the line. In the fourth quarter and the two overtimes, the Warriors were 23-for-25 on free throws, including one stretch of 19 straight.
“Briah Woods hitting those three free throws with no time left on the clock was just unbelievable,” Williams said. “It was an unbelievable effort from the whole team. Twenty-three out of 25 and 19 in a row … you don’t find many teams, any teams that do that.”
Hillgrove led most of the way but was unable to put the Warriors away.
North Cobb led 19-18 after a layup by Kyrie’ Chandler with 5:18 to play in the second quarter, but Hillgrove answered with a 9-0 run to take a 27-19 lead. The Hawks didn’t trail again until a minute into the first overtime, when Aniya Corley’s 3-pointer put the Warriors ahead 57-55. North Cobb extended the lead to three points at 61-58 with 1:18 to play in the period, but Mackenzie Engram made a free throw and a short jumper to tie the game 61-61 and send it to a second overtime.
North Cobb was in control the rest of the way. Two free throws by Sierra Barrino gave the Warriors the lead for good with 3:24 to play, and North Cobb went 8-for-10 from the line in the final 1:44 to put the game away.
Amber Reeves scored 22 points to lead North Cobb, which also got 14 points from Woods, 13 from Corley and 10 from Alexis Luster.
Engram, who committed the foul that sent Woods to the line at the end of regulation, finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. Aleigha Cass added 25 points for the Hawks.
“We knew we were going to have a tough stretch, playing McEachern, Kell and Hillgrove three out of four,” Williams said. “We can’t lay an egg. We’ve got to play. There’s still some good teams out there ahead of us.”
North Cobb (75): Barrino 4, Chandler 6, Reeves 22, Woods 14, Gray 6, Luster 10, Corley 13, Broadwater, Strahorn.
Hillgrove (70): Thomas 5, Pierce 4, Thompson 6, Engram 26, Cass 25, Smith 2, Anderson 2, Early.