Buffalo forward Mollie Dittmar made a pair of free throws with 4 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Lady Bison dealt a heartbreaking defeat to Hitchcock.
The Lady Bulldogs erased a four-point deficit in the final 90 seconds, but Hitchcock couldn’t retake the lead as the clock ticked down. Dittmar’s late free throws allowed Buffalo to survive and advance, 57-55, on Friday night at the Midway High School Arena.
Guard Tracoreia Word scored 16 points to lead the Lady Bulldogs and guard Irish Winn added 14.
Guard Jordan Jenkins paced Buffalo with 16, forward Asia Bradley and Dittmar each added 13, and guard Lauren Pate had 12.
Buffalo (26-4) moves on to face Teague in the Class 3A, Region III final today back at Midway.
Hitchcock’s season concluded at 33-4.
In a game that featured seven ties and five lead changes, Buffalo grabbed the late momentum when Jenkins made a running jumper in the lane to tie it at 49-49 with 3:37 left in the fourth quarter.
Jenkins scored 40 points in the previous contest. Hitchcock coach Andrew Hubbell said his team did a good job defending the Lady Bison’s guard.
“We schemed it the best way we could and we did everything we wanted to do,” Hubbell said. “We took away her points. She had 40 in the third round of the playoffs. We did everything we had to do.”
The Lady Bison surged ahead 55-51 when Dittmar made a layup on an assist from Bradley.
But Hitchcock (33-4) responded as guard Taivionna Daniels and forward Deasja Fury made baskets on consecutive possessions to even things at 55 with 41 seconds left.
Daniels, having scored her first basket of the contest less than a minute earlier, took a potential game-winner on a step-back 3-pointer with less than 15 seconds remaining, but the shot bounced off the front of the rim and Dittmar grabbed the rebound for Buffalo.
After Dittmar nailed a pair of free throws with 4 seconds left, Buffalo deflected the Lady Bulldogs’ inbound pass, keeping Hitchcock from taking one last shot.
“We had to get the ball up the floor in 4 seconds,” Hubbell said. “Four seconds, the way that they played it, was going to be tough to get a shot up. That’s a lot to ask a professional athlete to do, much less a high school kid that is scrambling for their lives. We were going to have to make some magic happen with that. We did the best we can and just lost it at the end.”
Hitchcock went on a 9-1 run sparked by Word’s 3-pointer early in the second quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs pushed ahead by six when forward Tierra McDaniel hit a trey and Word took the ball in the lane for a basket with 1:07 left before halftime.
But Jenkins scored just before the halftime buzzer to cut Hitchcock’s lead to four at the break, and Buffalo never let the Lady Bulldogs stretch out more than a three-point lead after the 4:30 mark of the third quarter.