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Lady Bulldogs down Dibrell
Aniston Wood drives for two of her 10 points in Dibrell's 19-16 loss to Eastside Tuesday. - photo by Jeffery Simmons
Emma Cordell, right, avoids the defense of Sara Davis during Tuesday's elementary opener in the Morrison Ruritan tournament. - photo by Jeffery Simmons

The elementary basketball season couldn’t have asked for a more exciting game to open the season.

Playing in the opening round of the Morrison Ruritan 7-8 grade tournament, Dibrell and Eastside went down to the wire. Shelby Smartt was able to lead the Lady Bulldogs to victory, sinking two big free throws in the final minute as Eastside won 19-16.

Dibrell brought a defensive-minded approach to the contest, centering its focus on the Lady Bulldogs’ star guard. Smartt, an all-league performer last year, was bottled up through three quarters, finishing with just two points as her team trailed 10-9 entering the final period.

Smartt decided to put her head down and drive into the teeth of the Dibrell zone defense, getting an early layup to start the see-saw scoring in the fourth.

Dibrell answered back with two buckets from Aniston Wood, the game’s leading scorer with 10 points.

Emma Cordell and Kelly Bush matched Wood for Eastside, each getting layups to give the Lady Bulldogs a 15-14 advantage late. Bebe Brackley would add a free throw to grow the lead to two.

Then the smallest player on the court made one of the game’s biggest plays.

Dibrell guard Lily Rains was able to come up with a steal under the Eastside basket and navigate her way through traffic upcourt. Rains found a sweet spot on the left wing, where she launched a 15-footer that swished through with less than two minutes to play.

Tied and hunting for the win, Smartt charged forward once more. The Eastside guard went behind-the-back to beat two defenders before rising above another defender at the rim. Smartt was hit on her shot, sending her to the free-thow line in a tight contest.

Smartt sank both, giving her team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Dibrell had one last shot to tie, but several point-blank shots at the rim trickled out and Smartt would add a late free throw after a rebound to end the game.

Rains finished with four points for Dibrell, while Sara Davis added two.

Smartt finished with seven points, followed by Bush with five, Brackley with two and Chloe Rogers and Cordell with two apiece.