EATONTON -- Dublin gave Putnam County all it could handle Wednesday night, but the Eagles were just a little bit better as they held on for a 54-52 win.
The Eagles move into the GHSA Class AA semifinals for the first time in head coach Jerusha Hudsons tenure.
I am so happy for the three seniors on this team who never gave up even through adversity, said a tearful Hudson, whose team missed the playoffs last year. I know maybe we had heard some things about Dublin, and maybe people were saying we were supposed to be better than them, but I let my team know that when its this deep into the state playoffs, its always going to be a battle.
Dublin gave us all we could handle, and we are fortunate to get the win.
Putnam County (27-2) jumped to a 17-9 first-quarter lead behind balanced scoring, with all five starters contributing and forcing seven Dublin turnovers. But Dublin fought back to tie the game at 21 on a LaShayla Pittman basket and took the lead at 23-21 on two Pittman free throws. The Irish pushed the lead to 27-23 on a late basket by Jasmine Hollis.
Putnam County looked to take control of the game in the third quarter. The Eagles got the lead back at 33-30 on consecutive 3-pointers by Shakedra Ellison and Ebony Hargrove and held on to the three-point lead at the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter started with the Eagles looking to put away the Irish. They scored six straight points early in the quarter, including four by Hargrove to make it a 48-41 game.
But Dublin rallied behind the inside game of Hollis, who scored seven of her 16 points during the next three minutes to get the Irish to within one at 51-50. Putnam County pushed its lead to 54-50 on a basket by Kianna Reid and a free throw by Wykessia Butts, but Pittman made two free throws with 13 seconds left. After a Putnam County turnover, Pittman drove the length of the court and got a good look at an open 12-footer, but the shot hit the front of the rim and Putnam County escaped with the win.
I just go out and try to play hard all the time and help my team win, Hargrove said. We have worked way too hard to lose this game on our home floor, but Dublin was maybe a little better that we thought.