Thursday, March 5, 2009
Byers at home in ‘Big House’
By CLAUDE VINSON
The state semi-final clash Saturday at “The Big House” was highly anticipated.
The H.W. Byers Lady Lions, defending 2A champions and number two seed from the North, faced Scott Central, the number one seed from the South and a former state title winner in 2000 in the 1A class.
Scott Central had also received a first round “bye” in the Mississippi High School Activities Association/Cellular South State Basketball Championships. Byers had advanced by beating Bay Springs on Tuesday of last week at Mississippi Coliseum.
The Lady Lions started in a fast mode versus Scott Central. They were getting excellent penetration but were failing to complete some close-in baskets. For whatever reason, inexplicable or not, each team had racked up six fouls in the first quarter, including a “tech” on the Lady Rebels’ bench. For whatever reason, inexplicable or not, the estimated 1,800 fans in attendance were highly partisan to Scott Central. That notwithstanding, Byers was able to come out of the first frame 20-11.
Byers was employing a 3-2 defense, tightly woven and close to the paint. Symone Gorman was beating the Lady Rebels to the rebounds and taking away second looks. The Lady Lions were also beating the Lady Rebels from beyond the arc. They connected on some timely treys which served to keep them out front 32-24 at the half.
Scott Central had targeted Rachel Jones and was forcing the ball straight at the middle. Gorman was ticketed with her fifth personal and had to retire early in the third quarter. Alexis Hardaway and Kourtney Coleman stepped up in transition and continued to supply the impetus needed to keep the Lady Rebels in the red. Although third quarter scoring was equal (18-18), Byers was still eight points ahead at 50-42.
The Lady Lions had a trio of players with three or more fouls in the fourth frame, but they kept stepping it up with a real spirit of togetherness. Rachel Jones was drawing a lot of coverage but she still took it up the lane and canned some crucial freebies. She converted nine of 12 attempts. Actually, all of the Lady Lions were enjoying accuracy at the line.
The Lady Lions went on to turn the Lady Rebels back with a final score of 70-59.
The win propelled Byers into the 2A state finals on Friday, March 6, at 1 p.m. Their opponent will be the winner of this past Monday’s game between the New Site Lady Royals and the Kemper County Lady Wildcats.
Coleman paced Byers with 21, including a pair of treys. Amanda Jones finished with 16, including two triples. Hardaway and Rachel Jones had 11 apiece.
Scott Central’s Quintinette Odom led the floor with 24 points, while teammate Kelcia Bufkin pitched in 14.
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