ST. PETERSBURG — Meagan Thomas delivered again for Dixie Hollins, and Hannah Rizzo proved an unlikely hero with a game-clinching shot as the Rebels defeated Hillsborough 50-48 in their Class 6A region quarterfinal.
The Terriers (17-12) looked like they would deny the Rebels their first playoff win after Aejona Chambers and Khoi Wilson scored to take a 46-42 lead with 1:05 remaining.
Thomas was fouled on a 3-pointer and calmly nailed all three free throws to pull within 46-45. Thomas forced a tie on the defensive end to get Dixie the ball back with under 40 seconds.
On the next possession Thomas, who had five assists to go with her 38 points, passed the ball to Haley Martz under the basket, but Martz failed to convert and the ball ended up in Rizzo’s hands. She banked a jump shot to give the Rebels a 47-46 lead.
Thomas added two free throws to extend the lead, and Wilson converted a layup with 7.5 seconds left to make the game 49-48.
Thomas strategically hit the front end of a one-and-one and Hillsborough failed to get the ball down the court with four seconds left.
Dixie Hollins (19-5) led by as many at nine and was clinging on to a 29-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Hillsborough (17-12) rallied in the fourth behind a 3-pointer from Artecia Brown and consecutive buckets from Brianna Honeywell to pull within 33-32.
Thomas answered with a 3-pointer, her sixth of the game, to extend Dixie’s lead to four, but the Terriers brought the pressure on defense and capped a 7-0 run with a basket from Chambers.
Thomas was fouled on a 3-pointer and hit 2-of-3 from the line, then added a steal and uncontested layup to give the Rebels a 40-39 lead.
After 3 from Jada Roberson gave the Terriers a 42-40 lead, Brown recorded another steal and layup to tie with two minutes remaining.
Wlison lead Hillsborough with 15 points and Chambers added 13. Martz chipped in eight points for Dixie.