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Trinity Holds off late Susan Moore Rally, Keeps Dream of State Championship Alive

Central Al Scoreboard

Story by Josh Bean | For the AHSAA

Photo by David Holtsford | AHSAA Photographer

     BIRMINGHAM – Trinity Presbyterian High School sophomore Francie Morris had one thought as she stepped to the free-throw line in the final minute of Tuesday’s AHSAA Class 3A Girls’ State Basketball tournament semifinal game against Susan Moore.
     “I was like, ‘Please, God, let me make this shot,’” she said.

     Morris made her first free throw and then made an even bigger play when she rebounded her own miss on the second one.

     “I had to get that rebound,” she said. “They didn’t have anybody boxing me out. I just moved forward and got it.”

     Morris passed to teammate Maddie Smith, who found 5-foot-10 sophomore Mya Moskowitz under the basket for a layup and a four-point lead with 22.6 seconds to go. The Wildcats (31-2), coached by Blake Smith, held on for a 52-47 victory over Susan Moore after leading by 17 points in the first half at the BJCC’s Legacy Arena.
     Trinity advances to play Clements in Friday’s championship game, set for 12:45 p.m. Trinity has never won a girls’ state basketball championship, and this is the program’s first title-game appearance since 1995.
     Susan Moore’s season ended at the state tournament for the third straight season. The Bulldogs (29-4) fell in the state semifinals in 2021, lost in overtime in the 2022 championship game and then lost to Trinity on Tuesday.

     “I’m very proud of my girls – always have been, always will be,” Susan Moore coach Nathasha Smallwood said. “Having to do a speech after a loss isn’t fun. It isn’t easy. You’re never prepared for this.

     “Trinity has a good team,” she continued. “We had a slow start and I knew it was going to be hard to come back. We came up short today. It wasn’t our day. We have to live with that.”

    Susan Moore’s Lacey Floyd hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to cut Trinity’s lead to 11 points, and the Bulldogs slowly cut the lead throughout the third quarter. The Bulldogs tied the game twice in the fourth quarter – at 40-all on Cesa Hernandez’s 3-pointer and 42-all on two free throws by Lani Smallwood with 3:41 to go.

     “To me, that’s the best team,” Smith said. “We knew they wouldn’t go away.”

     Moskowitz scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half for Trinity, and Maddie Smith led the Wildcats with 20 points. Morris added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

     Floyd and Lani Smallwood led Susan Moore with 14 points apiece, and Marisa Bryan added 10 points.

    Semifinal games in Classes 3A and 4A continue today at the BJCC with Classes 5A and 6A competing Wednesday. The Class 7A semifinals will be Thursday. Championships also begin Thursday with the 1A boys’ and girls’ finals. The Class 2A, 3A and 4A finals will be held Friday, and the Class 5A, 6A and 7A championship games close out the 2023 state tourney Saturday at Legacy Arena.
     All semifinal and championship games this week will be live streamed over the NFHS Network’s subscriber-based platform and shown live over the AHSAA TV Network. For the first time in the state tournament’s long history all championship games will also be shown live over the Alabama Public Television (APT) Network March 2-4. 
     The AHSAA Radio Network is also broadcasting all games over its network. 

AHSAA 2023 State Basketball Championships
BJCC Legacy Arena, Feb. 27-March 4

Girls’ Semifinals
Clements (28-6) 56, Pike County (23-9) 25
Trinity Presbyterian (31-2) 52, Susan Moore (29-4) 47 
Boys’ Semifinals
Midfield (25-5) 67, Hillcrest-Evergreen (20-6) 50
Sumter Central (27-5) vs. Plainview (29-5), 1:30 p.m.

Girls’ Semifinals
UMS-Wright (30-5) vs. Priceville (22-9), 3 p.m.
Prattville Christian (32-3) vs. New Hope (23-5), 6 p.m.
Boys’ Semifinals
Montgomery Catholic (19-6) vs. Westminster Christian (28-3), 4:30 p.m.
Hale County (17-12) vs. Jacksonville (27-6), 7:30 p.m.

Girls’ Semifinals
McGill-Toolen Catholic (29-5) vs. Hazel Green (34-1), 9 a.m.
Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa (27-5) vs. Huffman (26-4), noon.
Boys’ Semifinals
McGill-Toolen Catholic (28-6) vs. Buckhorn (25-8), 10:30 a.m.
Paul Bryant (22-12) vs. Mountain Brook (25-7), 1:30 p.m.

Girls’ Semifinals
Charles Henderson (18-9) vs. Pleasant Grove (26-6), 3 p.m.
Brewbaker Tech (13-7) vs. Arab (21-12), 6 p.m.
Boys’ Semifinals
Charles Henderson (24-5) vs. Ramsay (26-6), 4:30 p.m.
Valley (31-0) vs. Scottsboro (24-8), 7:30 p.m.

Girls’ Semifinals
Prattville (24-4) vs. Hoover (33-1), 9 a.m.
Foley (23-5) vs. Sparkman (25-8), noon.
Boys’ Semifinals
Dothan (26-4) vs. Hoover (29-3), 10:30 a.m.
Central-Phenix City (24-9) vs. Spain Park (25-6), 1:30 p.m.

Girls’ Semifinals
Marion County (21-13) 68, Elba ( (25-7) 61
Loachapoka (25-10) (15-8) vs. Spring Garden (34-1), Feb. 27, noon
Boys’ Semifinals
Covenant Christian (30-3) 47, Florala (23-8) 26
Oakwood Adventist Academy (27-8) 52, Autaugaville (21-7) 44

Girls’ Semifinals
Mars Hill Bible (25-5) 70, Geneva County (27-7) 50
Cold Springs (31-2) 44, Lanett (24-3) 37
Boys’ Semifinals
St. Luke’s Episcopal (16-11) 63, Mars Hill Bible (24-10) 56
Aliceville (24-1) 73, Sand Rock (22-11) 63

Scores and stories from around Central Alabama. More than just a sports Article.

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