Thursday, December 28, 2006
Lady Lions survive ‘sluggish’ outing
By BARRY BURLESON
Coach Jason Thompson said his H.W. Byers Lady Lions had Christmas break instead of basketball on their minds Tuesday night, Dec. 19.
But the good news is – they still won.
“It (the holiday season) evidently took our attention off what we needed to be doing,” Thompson said. “I guess the girls had shopping on their minds. We were very sluggish.”
Thank goodness for Byers’ depth. The bench played a big role in the Lady Lions’ 51-41 win at home over Independence.
“We have the utmost respect for Independence, and we can’t take anyone lightly,” he said. “We’ve played sluggishly in the past and not come out on top. This time we have quality enough a team to come out on top.
“The bench came through. Six contributed off the bench and gave us success. Hats off to them.”
He emphasized the contributions of Jessica Smith, Amanda Jones, Lanika Hale, Kenyatta Gulledge, Simone Ryan and Marian Parker.
The defenses of the two teams dominated early. The Lady Lions’ three-point attempts were not falling, but they were able to put together an 8-0 run to end the first quarter and go ahead 11-6.
The lead increased to as many as 10 points in the second quarter when Candice Seldon cashed in back-to-back layups.
Byers was up 25-16 at halftime.
The Lady Lions were just one of 23 from beyond the three-point line in the contest, but Brittany Todd’s bomb with under a minute to go in the third period gave Byers a 36-24 advantage.
“We’re usually on or off with our threes as a team, and tonight we were off,” Thompson said. “But we were also off from the free-throw line which is unusual.”
The Lady Lions hit only seven of 21 “freebies.” Normally the team hits about 70 percent from the stripe.
The Lady Wildcats got to within six midway through the fourth quarter but Byers pulled away again for the 10-point victory.
“We’re just glad to get the win,” said Thompson, whose squad improved to 10-3. “We put ourselves in a predicament because we didn’t execute on offense.”
Ten Lady Lions scored. Leading the point production were Latasha Anderson with 13 and Amanda Jones with 10.
Lions vs. Wildcats
The H.W. Byers Lions rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to take the lead but the wheels came off again in the fourth quarter.
They fell to a fired up bunch of Wildcats, 79-66.
“We sure didn’t help ourselves in the fourth quarter,” said coach Sylvester Kilgore. “We had some turnovers, missed some shots, and they made shots when they had to have them.”
The first quarter was nip-and-tuck. Independence led 14-12 after one.
The ’Cats went up 26-20 at the midway point of the second quarter, but Byers came back to trail 27-24 at the 3:07 mark when Tedarian Bryson hit a short shot.
The rest of the first half was all Independence. A dunk pushed its lead to 35-26 with 1:53 to go. Thanks to Kizer’s three at the buzzer, the Lions were down by just 13, 43-30 at the intermission.
“We looked like we weren’t ready to play (in the first half),” Kilgore said. “We have to work on getting more focused.”
The Lions were definitely focused coming out of the locker room for the third period. They outscored the visitors 25-10 in the quarter and snatched a 55-53 advantage.
They hit five threes in the third – two from Kizer, two from Nicholas Tate and one from Justin Owens.
Pressure defense that forced Independence turnovers played a key role.
“It all started with our defense (in the third),” Kilgore said. “Our defense got us good results on offense.
“The guys were penetrating and dishing the basketball to the open man.”
But things went sour in the fourth.
The game was tied 59-59 with 5:24 left. Then the Wildcats sank a three and led the rest of the way. They went up by eight with 1:44 to go, but Byers got back to within four, 70-66, on Tate’s bucket with 1:22 to go.
Independence scored the rest of the game’s points and won by 13.
Leading the Wildcats’ offense were Tate with 15, Owens with 14 and Kizer with 13.
The Wildcats bagged eight threes in the game, four in each half.
“We spent a lot of energy coming back and playing so hard in the third,” Kilgore said.
“Missed free throws really hurt us.”
Byers, which saw its record to to 8-5 on the season, was six of 14 from the line.
“It’s difficult if you don’t shoot 50 percent from the line,” he said.
Byers visited county rival Holly Springs Friday night. Due to early deadlines for the Christmas holiday, that story will be in next week’s edition.
The Lions and Lady Lions host Lewisburg on Tuesday, Jan. 2.
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