Thursday, March 6, 2008
Next stop state title game
By BARRY BURLESON
Sometimes it’s best to be quiet.
It worked Saturday for Jason Thompson. His H.W. Byers Lady Lions trailed by 10 at the half in the State Tournament semi-finals.
“Normally,” he admitted, “I would have fussed at them.”
But not this time.
“I didn’t say a word,” Coach Thompson said. “I walked in (the locker room), propped up against the wall, folded my arms and gave them the silent treatment.”
It was the Lady Lions’ second straight trip to “The Big House” for the big show. They’d already played 37 games this season and won 33, including district and north crowns.
“I let them figure out what we’d done right and wrong (in the first half),” he said. “We’ve been through everything together. They knew what it would take to turn things around. They knew they had to play the game like it’s supposed to be played.
“I just let them talk to each other, and then right before we walked out I said, ‘Let’s go back and win the ball game.’”
That, they did, outscoring Kemper County 34-16 in the second half, winning by eight points and igniting a big Byers celebration.
The Lady Lions are 34-4 and next is Philadelphia for all the marbles. The Lady Tornadoes (26-5) will be seeking revenge. Byers knocked them out of the State Tournament a year ago in round one before losing in the semis to Coahoma County.
“They’ve been wanting us since we put that bitter pill in their mouth,” Coach Thompson said. “No doubt, they will come out clicking on all cylinders.
“We just need to go and have fun and give it our best shot
“Our kids are committed to winning the gold ball. We want to finish the deal, and we can do that Thursday night if we outplay them for 32 minutes.”
The Lady Tornadoes are making their fifth consecutive visit to the State Tournament. They have one state crown. A story last week in the “Clarion Ledger,” after Philadelphia’s semi-final win over Lake, said the coliseum was becoming their “second home.”
“We’re trying to put H.W. Byers girls basketball on the map,” Thompson said, “not just in North Mississippi but in the State of Mississippi. One way to do that is win a state championship”
And for the Byers-Philadelphia winner, the basketball season will not be over. The state champion advances to next week’s Grand Slam Tournament at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo.
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