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Hillcrest claims Area 13 crown


Northridge’s Kiana Johnson (21) leaps to try to save the ball from going out of bounds during Saturday night’s tournament game against Hillcrest. (Photo by Erin Nelson )


TUSCALOOSA | Senior guard Ambrica Johnson was named the most valuable player Saturday after the Hillcrest High School girls basketball team won the AHSAA Class 6A, Area 13 tournament title.

Johnson sank two free throws with 6 seconds left to complete the scoring in a 44-38 victory over Northridge.

"I feel really good," Johnson said. "I was glad to beat Northridge, finally. It was definitely a grind. They came to play. We came to play, and in the end we got it. We’re ready for whatever comes next."

Hillcrest (21-10) has the home-court advantage for Thursday’s subregional round. The Lady Patriots will play the Area 14 runner-up at 7 p.m. Northridge (18-10) travels to face the Hoover-Minor winner. Minor plays at Hoover on Monday.

Hillcrest guard Charity Brown and center Ariel Minor made the all-tournament team, along with Kiana Johnson and Shameka Tubbs of Northridge, Kendra Conner of Tuscaloosa County and Amber Pinkard of Bessemer City.

Minor led the Lady Patriots with 15 points. Ambrica Johnson scored 14, Kieysha Mills eight and Brown seven. Hillcrest maintained its lead by making seven foul shots in the final five minutes.

"I thought there were several effort plays on our part out there," Hillcrest coach Jerome Elliott said. "I think there were effort plays on Northridge’s part, too. That’s to be expected in a game where you have two rivals playing each other, especially with the significance of this game being the area championship.

"We made some mistakes, and we didn’t react in certain situations as well as I would have hoped. But the bottom line is, we made the plays and did the little things down the stretch we needed to do under pressure from them to give us the win and, ultimately, the area championship."

Kiana Johnson, a senior guard, scored 17 points to lead the Lady Jaguars. Tubbs finished with 11, and Aikavelyn Harris scored six.

"That’s one of the great things about Kiana," Northridge coach John Cain said. "She’s just a superior competitor. She’s going to fight with everything she’s got to find a way to win. She did that today but just came up short."

Kiana Johnson hit a 3-pointer to cut Hillcrest’s lead to 35-34. The Lady Patriots answered with a layup by Mills, and Northridge was never able to tie it or take the lead.

"We just never could get over the hump," Cain said. "We fought back after digging a hole early and got it to one. I think if we take the lead we have a different mindset going down the stretch, but we were constantly coming from behind. Once again we had balls that had a hard time going in. We couldn’t get it to go."

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.