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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Griggs big for Viola

Thursday, March 12, 2009

HUGS: Taylor Griggs (background) gets a big hug after hitting two free throws to give Viola a thrilling last-second 43-41 win over Kirby in the state tournament March 5, while a dejected Cassi McCauley (front) walks off the court. Photo/Mullins
Anyone who has ever picked up a basketball has done it in their backyard or on the neighborhood playground.

It's the biggest game of the season.

No time left on the clock. You're standing at the free throw line, needing a pair of free throws to send your team to victory.

The weight of the world is on your shoulders.

Well, for Taylor Griggs, that scenario played out on a bigger stage than the backyard or playground.

With less than a second left on the clock, Griggs calmly hit two massive free throws to give the Viola Lady Longhorns a thrilling 43-41 victory over the Kirby Lady Trojans in the first round of the Class 1A State Tournament March 5 at West Side Greers Ferry High School.

The win was the Lady Longhorns' first state tourney win in more than 40 years.

Griggs' two big freebies capped an intense battle to the wire between Viola and Kirby. They also pulled the Lady Longhorns out of a three-for-nine funk at the free throw line in the fourth.

The Lady Longhorns were up 40-39 with 1:45 left, and Viola was in possession of the basketball.

Looking to pad their lead a bit, the Lady Horns missed a point blank shot at the hoop, but managed to snag the rebound.

Putting up the shot from close range, Viola came up short again, but once again, claimed the rebound.

This time, Leslie Barker (eight points) was fouled. She hit one free throw to give Viola a 41-39 lead with 48 seconds left.

Kirby's Tesla Cowart was fouled on the Lady Trojans' next trip down the court, and she nailed both free throws to square the game at 41-all with 33 seconds showing on the clock.

Viola took the ball and held for the last shot, calling timeout with 17 seconds left to set up the play.

The Lady Horns did get the last shot off, but it bounced high off the rim.

Enter Griggs.

Griggs shot up through traffic and pulled down the carom with both hands. Her feet barely hit the floor before she went back up with the ball for the putback. Griggs was hammered on the play, the clock stopping with 0.7 left.

So with the outcome in her hands, Griggs came through big-time, hitting both clutch free throws to give the Lady Longhorns a remarkable 43-41 victory over a group of Lady Trojans, ranked number two in Class 1A, that are not used to losing in the first round of the state tournament.

Neither Viola nor Kirby (35-5) could get into any kind of offensive sync for most of the first half, with each side missing easy shots and turning the ball over in a variety of ways.

The Lady Trojans pulled out to a quick 7-2 first-period lead, but Barker blasted a 3-ball and Dedra Johnston tacked on a layup to knot things at 7-all.

Kirby ended the first period with its second 3-pointer of the frame, giving the Lady Trojans a 10-7 lead after one.

The Lady Longhorns took their first lead of the afternoon at 14-10, thanks to a layup from Elisabeth Collins (nine points), hoop in the paint from Griggs (eight) and Barker's second triple of the first half with 6:13 left in the third.

Then it was Kirby's turn at a run, and the Lady Trojans peeled off nine straight points to grab a 19-14 advantage.

Chasidy Hutson (10 points) stopped the run with a jumper and Collins added a baseline bucket, but Kirby took a 21-18 cushion to intermission.

Viola grabbed its biggest lead of the game by closing the third period with 10 unanswered points, giving the Lady Horns a 34-29 lead after three.

Kirby came charging back in the fourth, but Griggs, with ice water in her veins, hit Viola's two biggest free throws of the year to give the lady Longhorns a two-point, first-round win.

Heather Simmons finished with four points for Viola, while Kristen Montgomery tacked on two points. Cassi McCauley led all scorers with 20 points for Kirby, while Cowart added 13. The duo combined for 33 of the Lady Trojans' 41 points in the game.

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