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Class 6A Girls Semifinals Hazel Green 38, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa 33

    Hazel Green High School’s Lady Trojans jumped to a quick 10-0 lead, led 22-8 at the half and then staved off a tremendous Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa comeback effort to post a 38-33 victory over the Patriots in the semifinals of the 2017 AHSAA Class 6A Girls State Tournament Wednesday at the BJCC Legacy Arena.
    Hazel Green (37-1) reached Saturday’s state championship game with the triumph. It will be the Lady Trojans’ first final since winning the state crown in 1995. Coach Tim Mille, making his 12th appearance in the state tourney as a head coach. He guided Jeff Davis and Bob Jones to state crowns in previous appearances.
     Caitlin Hose scored 16 points for Hazel Green, which is one win away from tying the second-best record for wins in a season in AHSAA history. Lauderdale County set the record (39-0) in 2015, and was 38-0 in 2014 as in the midst of a state-record 86-game winning streak. Hazel Green’s 37 wins this season ties for third already, accomplished by Paint Rock Valley (37-2) in 1990.
    Hose and Raven Washington each hit treys on the Trojans’ first two shots of the game and for the first three quarters Hazel Green appeared to be in complete control.
     Coach Steven Sims’ Patriots (31-3) turned up the defensive pressure and the shots began to fall in the fourth quarter as Hillcrest outscored the Trojans 13-4 to close the gap to three, 32-29, with 1:10 to play. Hose made two free throws and came up with her fourth steal of the game and cashed in the lay-up in the next 25 seconds to ice the win.
    Brooke Hampel added nine points for Hazel Green.
    Diamond Richardson and Tawana Nevels had nine points each for Hillcrest. Nevels also had a game-high nine rebounds.
     The 95th AHSAA State Basketball Championships got underway Wednesday with semifinal games in Classes 6A and 5A. Class 7A semifinals will be Thursday morning.  State finals in Class 1A will be held Thursday afternoon. Championships for boys and girls in Classes 2A, 3A and 4A are scheduled for Friday with Class 5A, 6A and 7A finals set for Saturday’s final day.
 All semifinals are being live-streamed by the NFHS Network, and the finals will be televised live and live-streamed by Raycom Sports. The AHSAA Radio Network is also broadcasting all games over its statewide radio network and internet link.



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