Thursday, March 8, 2007
in ‘The Big House’
By CLAUDE VINSON
The H.W. Byers Lady Lions roared into “The Big House” last Thursday in Jackson to meet the Tornadoes of Philadelphia.
They impressed all their fans and reduced the Tornadoes to “whispering winds” when the contest was over. The Lady Tornadoes were the second seed from the south half and defending champs of the 2A class.
“It was a total team effort,” said head coach Jason Thompson, “great hustle, good rotation on defense and solid rebounding.
“I told our kids they just had to play and not get caught up in the mystique of playing in ‘The Big House.’ Once we got over that and got into a rhythm, we never looked back.”
The Lady Tornadoes started with a deuce and a trey. Byers got its own scoring effort going and had a chance for an early tie but missed one at the line. Rachel Jones made up for the misfire, sinking one on the run which put the Lady Lions ahead.
If the first quarter was to be the determinant, one would have to conclude that these two were pretty evenly matched. However, Philly showed the one-point advantage at quarter’s end with an 11-10 mark.
The Lady Lions’ rebounding went from good to very good in the second quarter. Simone Ryan was forging in and snatching rebounds from the clutches of the Lady Tornadoes and making quick releases.
The Lady Lions seemed to be relaxed but not intimidated. They seemed to know exactly where they were and what it meant. They were covering the ball well from a socked-in, 2-3 defense, denying Philly penetration. They stalled the ball on the opposite end, playing for a sure shot to end the half. They had the 10-point edge at intermission. The score was 24-14.
The Lady Tornadoes showed some speed in the third, at one point cutting the lead to seven. But Byers remained undaunted, quickly pushing the margin back to 12 at quarter’s end. The lady Lions led 37-25.
Ryan had become the go to player in the third, and she expanded the role in the fourth. She caused multiple problems for the Lady Tornadoes on the defensive end. She was limiting the chances of stick backs.
Also the line shooting for Byers had improved greatly in the second half. They went from 45 percent in the first to 85 percent in the second.
Philly was in foul trouble and lost a starter (Danielle Cole) early in the fourth. But Byers was 16 points ahead late in the last quarter and the Lady Tornadoes had to foul.
The Lady Lions cruised to the 52-36 victory over Philly, much to the surprise and consternation, of the Lady Tornado supporters.
Sylvester Kilgore (head coach of the Byers boys), who is Thompson’s assistant on the bench for the girls, related just how excited Byers was with the victory.
“The girls did a great job,” Kilgore said. “They kept their composure and played their game. Anyone would have to be proud of a victory like that”.
Contributing to the Lady Lions first trip and victory in “The Big House” were Ryan and Jones with 13 each, Ciara Seldon with nine, Latasha Anderson with eight, Amanda Jones with four, Brittany Todd with three and Symone Gorman with two. Ryan grabbed 16 rebounds.
Tiara Logan led the Lady Tornadoes with 16 points.
The Byers girls improved to 26-10 on the season.
Coach Thompson said sophomores Rachel Jones, Amanda Jones and Ciara Seldon promised him as fifth graders they would get him to Jackson and the state tournament.
“Their promise held up,” he said.
The big win set up yet another semi-final meeting with the Coahoma County Lady Panthers on Wednesday, March 7, at 1 p.m. at Mississippi Coliseum. Byers lost to the Lady Panthers 70-57 in the north half tourney semis.
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