April Woodard saved the best game of her life for the biggest game of her life.
Woodard scored a career-high 39 points Saturday night to lead Harlem to a 61-55 win over Butler in the play-in game of the Region 3-AAA tournament. The 39 points were a single-game high for a Columbia County player this season.
Harlem advanced to play the third-place team from the South Division on Monday night. The winner will play Cross Creek with a trip to the state playoffs on the line.
"I knew I needed to step it up tonight," Woodard said. "We all know we have to play our best basketball to keep playing. If we lose, we're done."
The Lady Bulldogs notched their 10th win of the season, the most for the school since 1999, with the win over Butler.
"I talked all week about how nobody expected us to win nine games, much less 10," Harlem coach Kim Chambers said. "We fought like crazy to win the last three and make the region tournament."
But when Thomson beat Glenn Hills last week, Harlem was relegated to the play-in game.
Harlem, which beat Butler 27-22 earlier in the week, trailed Butler 41-38 entering the fourth quarter.
The Lady Bulldogs still trailed with less than two minutes to play when Woodard stole the ball as Butler was trying to run out the clock. She scored on a layup and was fouled; she converted the three-point play. She added four free throws when Butler was called for a technical foul after a loose ball foul.
"April carried us offensively," Chambers said. "But a lot of girls helped on the defensive end as well."
The Harlem boys team lost to Cross Creek in its play-in game, 60-54.
Donald Hudson led the Razorbacks with 19 points.
Harlem senior Sonjay Boyd ended his Bulldog career by scoring 13 points.
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