Thursday, January 24, 2008
Byers girls hand Middleton first lossBy CLAUDE VINSON
The H.W. Byers Lions and Lady Lions hosted a team on Saturday evening which hadn’t visited the Lions’ den for over three decades.
The Middleton, Tenn., Lady Tigers, considered to be the terror of TSAAA District 16A, Region 8A, had an unblemished record of 20-0.
In an interview before the game, head coach Jason Thompson stated that he had tried to schedule a “home and home” game with the Tigers but scheduling wouldn’t permit it. Thompson, also the athletic director at Byers said, “We felt that this would be an excellent test for our teams. You can’t achieve toughness by playing weak opponents.”
Thompson said he definitely would schedule both games next season.
The Lady Tigers took the floor in a floating 2-3 defense, but they soon abandoned it after the Lady Lions began picking it apart. Simone Ryan was clearing the boards at both ends. The Lady Lions took the opening frame 13-4.
The visitors showed some aggression in the second and began circumventing Byers’ fast breaks. But Byers still stayed out front at the half, 25-18.
In the third the Lady Tigers unveiled the reason that they were feared in Region 8. Sharon Morgan found her spot in trey land and sank four triples to make the Lady Tigers one back at 30-29. She came right back with a fifth three and Middleton had its first lead. It didn’t last long. Rachel Jones moved Byers back out front with a deuce at the buzzer. The diminutive dynamo was not done. She blasted down the lane twice more with points before the Tiger coach called time. The Lady Lions kept the lead at 35-32 after three.
The Lady Tigers were not shrinking violets. They fought back time and again. They could not contend with the play of Ryan. She made numerous key blocks, grabbed rebound after rebound. If she had the magic lariat and the invisible plane she could have passed for “Wonder Woman.”
The Lady Lions prevailed to the tune of 55-43 and upped their outstanding record to 22-3.
Jones led the upset with 23 points. Ryan followed with 12. Ciara Seldon scored 10.
Morgan led the Lady Tigers with 15 (all points from threes).
This game was played to a standing-room-only crowd. Principal Gary Hannah said Byers had heard the Lady Tigers were a tough, scrappy team.
Jones said after the game, as she praised the play of her teammates, “They were tough, but someone gave us our first loss so someone had to give them theirs.”
Lions fail to complete sweep
The Lions were trying to make this a clean sweep of the teams from across the border. Both teams went to the long range attempts almost immediately. And both sides had some success. The lead see-sawed throughout the first quarter. The Tigers had a one digit edge after it was over.
After the seven lead changes in the first frame, play settled a little but the Tigers kept up the long distance barrages. Jammie Cheairs connected on enough of them to give them a 10-point lead at one time. It was cut to nine at the half, 37-28.
Cheairs did not stop his three attack from way outside. The gap drew wider. The Lions tried to cool the pace and take more control. Justin Owens started his own three ball machine He sank a trio and Marvin Rayford nailed a deuce to move them within eight after three, 58-50. In the fourth the Lions solidified their offensive teamwork. This resulted in the reduction of a 15-point deficit down to five at 58-53.
Byers tightened the pressure in the last quarter, but Cheairs kept finding paths for his three balls. He ended with 27 points. The Tigers cruised to a 71-56 victory.
Trailing Cheairs were Freddie Buggs with 12 and Codero Talley with nine.
Owens had 20 and Rayford had 17 for Byers, which saw its record fall to 8-15.
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