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McKenzie Lady Tigers drop heartbreaker to Red Level

McKenzie’s Xandria Maye was a force to be reckoned with Monday evening both offensively and defensively, despite the Lady Tigers’ narrow 44-43 loss to Red Level.

McKenzie’s Xandria Maye was a force to be reckoned with Monday evening both offensively and defensively, despite the Lady Tigers’ narrow 44-43 loss to Red Level.

The very first game of the Georgiana-hosted Class 1A Region 3 tournament could well prove its most thrilling.

A inaccurate inbound pass was all that separated the Lady Tigers of McKenzie High School and Red Level as the former held on to a narrow 44-43 victory.

McKenzie and Red Level ran a neck-and-neck race throughout four quarters, during most of which only a point or two separated the two teams at any given time.

McKenzie held a 2-point lead at the start of the second half, though it vanished in a flash after a clutch 3-pointer from Red Level guard Maggie Wilkerson gave her team their first lead of the second half with 6:30 remaining in the third.

Undeterred, McKenzie’s Xandria Maye made her first of several third-quarter contributions, going coast to coast with a burst of speed for an effortless lay-in to regain the McKenzie lead.

Center Natalie Feagin became a one-woman show for Red Level, however, not only by dominating the post but also acting as point guard in the backcourt as she traded baskets with Maye for a total of four lead changes in the third quarter alone.

McKenzie shifted to a full-court press midway through the third, which forced a handful of Red Level errors that turned into McKenzie points.

Maye once again led the charge on offense and defense, most notably getting a tough shot to fall while drawing a foul to complete a 3-point play that gave McKenzie a 4-point lead—it’s biggest cushion of the half—as the third quarter dwindled away.

A very deep 3-pointer from McKenzie forward Taylor Turner seemed to seal the deal with a 5-point lead, but a Red Level rally cut the lead to a single point at the close of the third.

Feagin continued to dominate the second half in the fourth quarter, however, putting Red Level, giving them a 3-point lead.

But Turner struck again from beyond the arc with a crucial 3-pointer that tied the game at 43 apiece with 43 seconds left.

Red Level guard Jayla Poindexter drew a foul on the ensuing possession and renewed the Red Level lead at the free throw line.

Hope remained with 3.7 seconds left on the clock, however, as Feagin was called for an offensive foul that gave McKenzie another possession and a chance for a win.

But a miscommunication on the inbound pass put the ball in Red Level’s hands as the remaining seconds vanished off the clock, securing a 1-point Red Level win.