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Anderson nearly erases big deficit, but falls short against Romulus in regional final PHOTO GALLERY/TOUT VIDEO

  • Laekyn Jaciuk and the Anderson Titans almost erased a 21-point deficit Thursday night, but fell just short against Romulus in the regional final game at Carlson. Photo gallery by Dave Chapman

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When the Anderson Titans team fell down by 21 points early in the third quarter, it looked like they didn’t have a prayer of coming back against a very good Romulus team.

But Tinara Moore and a determined Titans team had other ideas.

Down by as many as 21 at one point and 10 by the end of the third quarter, the Titans cut Romulus’ lead to only two and had a chance to tie the game with less than ten seconds left but couldn’t make the basket inside.

The Titans wound up falling to the Romulus Eagles by a score of 60-56 in the Class A, Region 3 championship game on Thursday night in Gibraltar.

Moore played arguably the best game of her tremendous season, scoring 38 points to go along with 11 rebounds and three blocks (all team highs), carrying the Titans on her back for most of the game.

“I thought Tinara was phenomenal, we just had far too many turnovers early,” said Titans Coach Larry Sakalas. “When the turnovers pile up like that, and the other team can advantage of them like (Romulus) did tonight, that hurts.”

Romulus got off to a good start but Moore nearly kept pace with them singlehandedly, scoring all nine of her team’s points in the first quarter.

The Titans went into the second quarter down by five and that’s when the turnovers started to haunt them.

Romulus took advantage of a couple lazy inbound passes to score buckets, and their active hands on defense got into the passing lane, which turned into easy transition baskets. By the time the half rolled around, the Titans found themselves in a 12-point hole, down 27-15.

In the third quarter, Romulus’ three-point shooting prowess began to cause problems for the Titans.

The Eagles knocked down three shots from behind the long line in the third quarter, and they opened up 21-point lead early in the third as a result.

But the Titans fought back, and they did it from the free-throw line. Moore and Leah Malam combined for seven points from the line and that helped cut the Eagles’ lead in half heading into the fourth.

That’s when Moore and the Titans did their best work, outscoring the Eagles 18-14.

“We battled back in the fourth quarter, I thought we played physical, and we didn’t run out of energy,” Sakalas said. “I’m proud of these girls and I love them to death.”

Junior Laekyn Jaciuk missed a pair of free throws with 58 seconds to go that would have made it a four-point game, but Anderson came up with the big rebound and Moore was there to nail the shot down low.

The Titans had to play the fouling game with just 50 seconds remaining and down by four, but it worked out for them, as the Eagles came up empty in two consecutive trips to the free-throw line. Each time, who else but Moore was there to score buckets on Anderson’s next two possessions.

Down by two, the Titans rebounded yet another missed Eagles free throw and with nine seconds left, Sakalas called a timeout to draw up a play.

Out of the timeout, tight Romulus defense on Moore and Jaciuk allowed freshman Christian Anderson, the inbounder, to get herself underneath the basket with room to operate. She threw up a shot, but it was too hard, banging off the rim and into a Romulus player’s hands.

Anderson fouled again, and the Eagles hit both shots to end Anderson’s comeback hopes as well as their season.

Sakalas said the Eagles defended his top players well on the final play he drew up.

“The ball was supposed to go for a backside cut to Laekyn but we couldn’t get up an up-screener so when that broke down we passed it in, and we had an opportune look at the basket, but we just missed it,” he said. “It’s unfortunate we fell behind by so many and it had to come down to that.

“We battled hard and I’m really proud of these girls. I’m going to miss these girls tremendously.”

Six seniors (three starters) will graduate from Southgate-Anderson this year, including Moore, Malam and Amani Corley.

The Titans finish the season with a 21-3 record and a district championship under their belt.

Sakalas said after the game that he’s proud of all that his team was able to accomplish this season.

“This has been a special group since they were freshman,” he said. “This is my first group that I had from freshman to senior and I couldn’t be more proud of each and every one of them. We had a great season and I’m looking forward to the future endeavors of our girls that our leaving and watching them in college.”

Last Updated: 3/6/2014 11:32:29 PM EST