Thursday, March 1, 2007
By CLAUDE VINSON
The H.W. Byers Lady Lions continued their history-making run to “The Big House” in the consolation round at Belmont on a stormy Saturday night.
They had started the historic accomplishment by hosting the first game of the North Half on February 19.
The gym at Belmont was packed with mainly Lady Cardinal supporters when the teams hit the floor. In the game which would determine the final selection from Class 2A North, the Lady Cardinals got the tip, first possession and first shot.
But the Lady Lions bounced back quickly after Simone Ryan put them on the board from the line. Although they were having trouble sinking the close-ins, Byers managed the lead of 14-9 at the end of the first frame.
The inception of the second quarter saw a transformation of sorts. The Lady Lions took the board game away from the Lady Cardinals. They left Belmont behind by 10 points. They added two more before intermission to make it 28-16.
The third quarter saw a very physical game; however, the game officials were maintaining good control.
It was a total team effort from Byers, with every player hitting the floor making a contribution. If one was to select heroines, there would have to several. Ryan was handling the opposition in the lane like a pro. Rachel Jones and Amanda Jones were attacking from the outside. Marian Parker was holding sway at the stripe. The Lady Lions were up 35-26 at the end of the third.
The Lady Cardinals started to creep back in at the beginning of the fourth. When the clock wound down to two minutes, coach Jason Thompson called for a spread offense. The Lady Cardinals were behind with a weak clock. They had to foul. The Lady Lions wrapped up their first-ever ticket to the state tournament at Jackson with a 50-42 win.
After the congratulatory back slapping, Thompson said that he cautioned his charges at halftime, stating, “We can’t give them anything. We are in their house and they are going to throw everything at us down the stretch”.
Securing the victory for Byers was Ryan with 21 and Amanda Jones with 10.
“The biggest things was Simone stepping up and playing at the level she’s capable of,” Thompson said. “She had a stellar performance.”
Anna Brooke Page hit 10 for Belmont.
“Belmont has the tradition, but I have a team full of players with heart and fire in their eyes,” Thompson said. “Our backs were against the wall, but my players said, ‘Coach, we are not going home.’ ”
The Lady Lions will face Philadelphia, the defending Class 2A state champion, Thursday at 1 p.m. in Mississippi Coliseum.
“It’s a unique honor – to finally get over the hump and make it to Jackson,” he said. “It’s a tribute to the girls’ hard work and countless hours in the gym. We’ve played a lot of good competition in a lot of different places.”
Byers falls toCoahoma County in semis
Before the Lady Lions reached the consolation contest they had to play the Lady Panthers of Coahoma County.
The Lady Lions started strong but then their shooting went cold after that. The Lady Panthers grew hot, especially the three-point shooting from Tiffany Fowler. She planted her fourth consecutive trey to put the Lady Panthers up 40-26 at intermission.
The accuracy improved little in the third, although the Lady Lions’ defensive play had gotten solid. Coahoma was still slowly pulling away. The Lady Panthers were up 57-40 after the third quarter.
Byers needed to get something concrete going in the final frame. The Lady Lions were behind by 19 and time had become a factor. And Coahoma had reached the penalty phase. They were making plenty of errors but the Lady Lions couldn’t seem to take advantage. They fell 70-57.
Ciara Seldon led Byers with 17, and next were Simone Ryan and Rachel Jones with 11 each.
The Lady Panthers were paced by Tanesha Washington with 17, Fowler with 16, Radius Collins with 14 and Jalissa Pointer with 10.
Byers punishes Ruleville in second round of North Half
Byers opened with back-to- back treys from Rachel Jones and Brittany Todd. Simone Ryan picked up her second foul and had to retire to the bench. The Lady Lions were playing “heads up” ball and went out front 13-6 after the first quarter.
The Lady Tigers picked up the pace in the second but were no match for Rachel Jones who was at her quarterbacking and playmaking best. Through her assists and three point shooting, it wasn’t long before the Lady Lions had an eleven point lead. They led at the half by nine at 30-21.
The game was a bit more rugged in the third because the Lady Tigers were showing some teeth. But Byers was keeping a safe distance and had its biggest lead at 43-28 at the end of three.
Marian Parker came in to lead the fourth quarter contributions, doing an excellent job of cleaning the boards. Byers was starting to relax a bit after they reached a twenty point margin. They cruised to a 61-38 victory.
Rachel Jones hit for 15, followed by Ciara Seldon with 11, Marian Parker with eight and Latasha Anderson and Brittany Todd with seven each.
Gabrielle Jones had 20 for the Lady Tigers.
Lady Lions win Northfirst round for first time
The Lady Lions began their meteoric ride through the 2A North Half playoffs by hosting the first round game in the Lions’ den against the Leland Lady Cubs.
The scoring was slow at first and Byers was showing good defensive strength but making bad shot decisions. Then Simone Ryan ran off six unanswered points. That seemed to have set the tone for the Lady Lions 13-5 first quarter.
Byers continued with a 2-3 offense which was very effective. The Lady Lions were slipping coverage and connecting on a couple of threes. Rachel Jones wasn’t finding the bottom of the nylon but she was dishing out some valuable assists. They were clearly in control of this one which was shown by the 35-20 halftime score.
Ryan was floating in and out of the lane like a gazelle. Not only was she being point productive, but she was creating shot opportunities for the long ball shooters. It was 56-22 after three.
Coach Thompson was subbing freely, running his starters in and out but here was little need. Byers earned a 33-point lead and the Lady Cubs were helpless. The final score was 68-37.
Latasha Anderson led with 17. Ryan and Amanda Jones had 15 and 12, respectively, and Marian Parker put up 10.
Deonna Walton led the Lady Cubs with 13 and teammate Jeanetta Glasper had nine.
The Lady Lions had made it to the second round of North Half play for the first time ever.
Sports Editor’s Note: Belmont was notified at the last minute that it would be the site of the Girls 2A North Half. These people put on an excellent tournament. If there were a ribbon for hospitality it would have to be given to Belmont. Special thanks to Lynn Chumbly (hospitality hostess) and Andy Chumbley (principal).
With a win Thursday versus Philadelphia in the state tournament, Byers would face Coahoma County next Wednesday, March 7, at 1 p.m. in the semi-finals.
The Lady Lions take a 25-10 record to the state tournament, the most wins in school history for the girls.
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