GHSA REGION 1-A GIRLS TOURNAMENT: Led by Diamond's 33 points, Miller County stuns Randolph-Clay in quarters

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

CUTHBER -- Salina Diamond wanted to leap to the heavens, wanted to shout and maybe even dance a little.

But what she wanted most was to give her coach a hug.

"That's what we do when we win, and this is going to be a big hug, a real big hug,'' she said, stretching her arms as far as she could to first-year coach Nate George.

Someone should hug Diamond -- and who better than everyone in Miller County? She wrapped her arms around the biggest game of the year Wednesday night and lifted Miller County on her back with an inspirational, career-high 33-point night to help the Lady Pirates upset defending region champ Randolph-Clay, 71-60, in the quarterfinals of the Region 1A tournament at Randolph-Clay, where Diamond got off to a slow start and then burned down the nets at the end.

She scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and personally held off every run by the Lady Red Devils, who just kept coming. Casey Sands led R-C with 20 points and Kanekia Washington poured in 17 points for the Lady Red Devils (13-13), who cut the lead to 54-52 when Washington hit a drive with four minutes left.

But Diamond hit an and-one play to lift Miller to a 57-54 lead and just took over the game. She made six of her final six shots from the floor, including another and-one play, and scored 14 of Miller's final 16 points to put the game away.

"I just told my point guard to break it down and I'll be waiting (on the ball),'' Diamond said. "And she did.''

Diamond just couldn't miss and when the Lady Red Devils fouled her; she burned them from the line, finishing the game 9 of 11. She also grabbed 13 rebounds.

"She's a senior, and I told her early to step up, and she did,'' said George, whose smile after the game was almost as big as the hug Diamond gave him.

Miller County meets bitter rival Seminole County at 7 p.m. on Friday at Terrell County in the semifinals. The first four teams in the region advance to the state playoffs. Had the Lady Pirates (13-6) lost, their season would have ended.

"We're in,'' shouted George. "It's been a long time coming, about six years. But we're in.''

They arrived with the biggest upset of the tournament. Miller was the No. 4 seed from the south sub-region and Randolph-Clay was the top seed from the north -- and at home. Not to mention, R-C girls coach Jennifer Acree predicted earlier this season her team would still win the region, even during a rebuilding year.

Diamond, however, made sure that prophecy didn't come true. She knew it might be her last game, and gave her own pep talk to her teammates.

"I told my girls to put your heart in it, and give it your all,'' said Diamond, whose career high had been 22 points. "I didn't feel like I was going to have a big game. I didn't get off to a good start, but then my coach told me to calm down. I did and I just let it come to me.''

Now on to play Seminole.

"It's a rivalry,'' George said. "We've played them twice and this is Round 3.''