Lady Dawgs earn Final Four birth for first time in school history

The Pike County Lady Bulldogs are headed to the Class 3A State Semifinals for the first time in school history after knocking off Houston Academy in the Class 3A Girls Regional Finals in Montgomery on Tuesday.

Pike County held a slim 10-7 lead heading into the second quarter and led 18-17 at halftime. In the third quarter, PCHS stretched the lead to 24-19 after holding the Lady Raiders to just two points in the period.

After a steal and a layup from Amity White, the Lady Bulldogs stretched their lead to 26-19 midway through the fourth quarter. White knocked down 1-of-2 free throws a minute later and then converted a layup, plus another free throw to stretch the PCHS lead to 30-19 with 3:20 left. Taniyah Green knocked down a layup with 2:30 left to extend the lead further to 32-19 with 2:18 left in the fourth. Green converted another layup with 1:48 left to stretch the lead to 34-19 and cap off Pike County’s 10-0 run.

Taniyah Green (23) grabs a rebound. (Photo by Josh Boutwell)

Houston Academy finally knocked down a jumper to cut the Lady Dawg lead to 34-21 with 1:35 left but Amity White hit a jumper just seconds later to stretch the lead back out to 36-21 with 1:20 left. The Lady Dawgs finished off the Lady Raiders with another 8-0 run and outscored Houston Academy 18-5 in the fourth quarter. Amity White scored 10 of Pike County’s 18 points in the fourth quarter to help make history for the PCHS program.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” PCHS coach Melissa White said of her team making history. “It takes a special group of kids and this team went through a lot of adversity and the girls stuck it out and came together as a unit. Our motto this year was, ‘All In,’ whatever it takes to win and that’s what the team showed today.”

Pike County outrebounded Houston Academy 50-33 in the regional finals and forced 19 turnovers. The Lady Dawgs have held every team in the postseason under 30 points and Melissa White said that Pike County transitioned from its usual harassing man-to-man defense to a zone defense in the second half, holding Houston Academy to just seven total points in the second half.

Amity White earned Regional Tournament All-Tournament and MVP honors as she tallied 19 points, six rebounds, four assists and five steals. Taniyah Green and Ivy White also earned All-Tournament honors. Ivy White scored two points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Elite 8, while Green was a menace to the Raiders totaling 14 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and three steals. Urriya Berry also grabbed nine rebounds for the Lady Dawgs.

Amity White, Ivy White and Taniyah Green earned All-Tournament honors. Amity White was also named Tournament MVP.

“It means a lot, especially with my team having my back,” Amity White said of winning MVP. “We’ve been through a lot, been through a lot of adversity as a team, but we’re coming together and we’re playing a lot better, we’re more physical and we’ve bonded a lot more as a team and you can tell.”

In years past, the Lady Dawgs have managed to reach the regional semifinals but 2023 was the first time the PCHS girls team made it to the Elite 8 and it will be the first time the girls head to Birmingham for the Final Four, as well. Melissa White said the history of the moment was not lost on her team.

“We want to continue to build from where we started,” she emphasized. “We were able to make it to the first round (in the past) but never able to get to the Elite 8 or the Final Four. This year our eye’s have been on that prize, getting back up here and completing the task to get to the Final Four as regional champions.”

Pike County will play the winner of the Northeast Regional Finals in the Class 3A State Semifinals on Feb. 28 at 9 a.m. in Birmingham.