Threes were abundant in the first semi-final game in the girls' division of the annual Lyon College Invitational Tournament at Becknell Gymnasium Dec. 8.
Threes, as in 3-point plays by the Cave City Cavewomen in the second period, two the old-fashioned way, four from beyond the arc.
Threes, as in a big comeback charge in the third period by the Melbourne Lady Bearkatz.
And threes, as in three big plays to end the ballgame.
In the end, these threes favored Cave City, as the Cavewomen, who had been to the championship game three times previous, punched another ticket to the title game with a tight 47-42 win over the fourth-seeded Lady Katz.
But thanks to a late push by Melbourne, the outcome could easily have been reversed.
Trailing 32-18 at the half, the Lady Bearkatz (10-3) put their first-half woes behind them with a rally late in the third period.
Cave City's Jordan Witt (10 points) drilled a triple at the 2:54 point of the third to put Cave City on top 37-20 when Melbourne came to life.
Autumn Henry (six points) started a period-ending 8-0 run with a pair of free throws after Witt's trey.
Olivia Morris added a jumper in the lane, and Abby Cooper finished things off with a putback and two free throws to pull Melbourne within nine, 37-28, after three. This after the Lady Katz had trailed by 14 at the break and looked done for sure. Morris tied for game-high honors with 16, while Cooper followed with 15 for the game. Morris also earned a spot on the All-Tournament team for her play.
Melbourne kept its nose to the grindstone in the final frame, and a 6-0 burst starting at the 3:12 mark of the fourth pulled the Lady Katz within two, down 44-42. Cooper finished this spurt with a nifty turnaround jumper on the baseline.
With Cave City down by two, and a touch over one minute left to play, Brittney Landers missed what would have been her sixth triple for the Cavewomen, and Melbourne's Tori Rush (two points) snagged the long rebound.
The Lady Katz took the ball downcourt and worked it around the perimeter before calling timeout to set up the game-tying play with 15 ticks left on the clock.
Melbourne didn't get the play it wanted, but did get two charity tosses out of the deal, with five seconds left in the game.
However, both free throws missed their mark and Witt (All-Tournament team) ended the game with a layup and free throw for the top-seeded Cavewomen (9-0), as they survived a big-time scare from a determined bunch of Lady Bearkatz, winning by five points.
The Cavewomen returned to Becknell Gymnasium the next evening and beat Greers Ferry-Westside to capture the tournament championship.
Cave City's grit on the offensive backboards played a huge part in its ability to hold Melbourne at bay. Especially in the first half when the Cavewomen got at least two shot attempts every time down the floor because of their aggressive rebounding.
The Lady Bearkatz held a 7-4 lead late in the first period before Cave City pulled even at 9-all. Melbourne might have been able to stretch some more mileage out of their three-point lead, but the Lady Katz turned the ball over on four straight possessions to let Cave City hang around.
Melbourne ended the first with back-to-back hoops from Rush and Morris to take an 11-9 lead to the second period.
As close as the first eight minutes of play was, the second eight-minute period was lop-sided in Cave City's favor thanks to a rash of 3-point plays.
Leah Fugett had two in the frame, both on hoops and-ones, while Landers shot lights out with four treys in the second. Fugett (Tournament MVP) paced Cave City with 16 points, while Landers followed close with 15.
Melbourne was down 21-15 with three minutes left until the half when Landers went crazy. She sparked an 11-0 runout with three triples, helping Cave City to a commanding 32-18 lead at intermission.
The second half was an entirely different story.
Melbourne outscored the Cavewomen 10-5 in a big third-period comeback, leaving the door open in the fourth.
As it turns out, the door was not open enough, with Cave City fending off the Lady Bearkatz 47-42 to earn their second straight trip to the Lyon College finals.
Whitney Wammack finished with three points for Melbourne.
Kayla Qualls, Cassie Bradley and Whitney Stauffer posted two points each for Cave City.