March 5, 2009
MA girls finish in final four
Traci Rodgers and Callie Clanton said the play worked just like they’d practiced.
“Yeah, sure,” they said jokingly and with huge smiles. “It was just like we drew it up.”
Marshall Academy had just stunned big school and rival Magnolia Heights 44-42 on a last-second shot in the quarter-finals of the Mississippi Private School Association Overall Tournament.
The game was tied at 42 and Magnolia Heights, with possession, called timeouts with :23.7 and 08:6 left.
The Lady Chiefs threw the ball in-bounds after the latter timeout, and Rodgers came up with the steal. She drove to the goal on the other end, shot, missed, grabbed the rebound as she was falling out of bounds and tossed the ball back to her teammate. Clanton caught it, released the short shot and as it dropped through the net, the buzzer sounded.
“That final play was not luck but sound fundamental team defense,” coach Craig Dailey said. “It was tremendous anticipation by Traci and sticktuitiveness by both Traci and Callie.”
A huge celebration followed Wednesday morning on the floor of A.E. Wood Coliseum at Mississippi College in Clinton. Class AAA Magnolia Heights had beaten Class AA Marshall three times during the regular season.
“I’ve won some state titles that didn’t feel much sweeter,” he said. “I’m usually reserved in a win but in this case I got pretty excited. It was a huge accomplishment for our young ladies. We beat a team that could have easily won the whole thing with the talent they had. We advanced to the final four in the whole MPSA, and of course, we put Magnolia Heights out. That’s pretty sweet in itself.”
The Lady Patriots had defeated Marvell Academy by three in round one of the Overall Tournament on Tuesday of last week. They went on to lose to Oak Forest by four Friday in the semi-finals to end their season with a 35-10 record.
The Lady Pats fell behind Magnolia Heights 12-8 after one quarter. They got to within one point twice in the second period, both times on threes from Rodgers. They trailed 24-18 at the half.
MA got its first lead of the game at the 4:36 mark of the third. Rodgers passed to Clanton, who scored in the lane. But after three, Marshall was down 37-36.
The Lady Patriots retook the lead at the 5:50 mark of the fourth when Clanton scored off an assist from Emily Burk. They upped that margin to 42-39 on Rodgers’ three with 2:39 left.
Then the dramatics played out in the final minute and a half after the Lady Chiefs knotted the score at 42.
“It was one of my program’s best defensive efforts ever,” he said. “Holding them to five points in the fourth quarter was textbook ‘We Believe’ defense. Molly (West) and Regan (Murphy) are the heart and soul of our defense, and they anchored a tremendous defense on this day. Emily has also developed into a dominant defensive player.”
Rodgers scored 29 points, including five threes. Clanton and Burk followed with nine and six points, respectively.
“Traci put us on her shoulders several times and willed us on offensively,” Dailey said. “Callie’s nine in the second half and Emily’s six in the first half helped get us over the hump.”
Marshall hit 18 of 49 shots (37 percent), while Magnolia Heights was 17 of 28 (61 percent).
Rodgers was the team’s leading rebounder with seven. She also dished out four assists.
Marshall vs. Marvell
The Marshall girls opened the MPSA Overall Tournament Tuesday, Feb. 24, with a hard-fought 42-39 win over Class A Marvell Academy.
It was the Lady Pats’ third win over Marvell this season.
“Beating a good team three times is hard,” Dailey said. “Their system is a mirror image of our’s, and this made for an ugly game, but we found a way to win.”
The Lady Patriots were coming off a heart-breaking, 39-36 loss to Leake Academy just three days earlier in the championship game of the state tournament.
The first-round overall game was tight throughout. It was tied at 10 after one quarter. Marshall was up 21-20 at the half and 34-31 after three periods.
Rodgers nailed two free throws with 12 seconds left to put the Lady Pats up 42-39. Marvell’s three-point shot with one second left was blocked by Kelsey Shaw.
Rodgers and Burk were the leading scorers in the win with 13 and 12, respectively. West and Clanton added six each. Shaw scored five.
The Lady Patriots struggled from the field but survived – hitting just 16 of 52 shots (31 percent). Marvell was 16 of 29 (55 percent).
Rodgers grabbed 10 rebounds and Burk seven. Getting five rebounds each were West and Shaw.
Marshall vs. Oak Forest
The Lady Patriots had an even poorer shooting night in the semi-finals Friday and it cost them. They lost 34-30 to Oak Forest, a team it had beaten a week earlier in the state semi-finals.
Marshall hit just nine of 42 shots (21 percent). The Lady Jackets weren’t much better from the field – 13 of 38 (34 percent).
Coach Dailey said both teams played superb defense. He said MA’s shooting woes “had a lot to do with their defense.”
The Lady Patriots sank seven of 13 free-throw tries, while Oak Forest connected on six of seven.
The third quarter proved to be the Lady Patriots’ downfall. That’s when Oak Forest outscored them 15-6 and took a 29-22 lead into the fourth.
Rodgers and Shaw led Marshall with eight points each. Burk scored seven and Clanton five.
“Oak Forest is a very good team, and they had a good game plan,” Dailey said. “Their box-and-one defense was tough. We just had to hit some shots and were not able to hit enough.
“Three of the final four teams were AA teams, and any one of us could have won it all. Leake got the gold ball, and I can promise you they didn’t want to see us on Saturday again (after a 39-36 win over Marshall a week earlier in the state championship game).”
He praised his three seniors – Rodgers, West and Murphy – for their sacrifice and hard work.
“They’ve believed as hard and as much as any I’ve ever had,” Dailey said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the tough, hard-nosed, gritty players they have become. They’re perfect examples of where the ‘We Believe’ program can take a young person if they are willing to sell out to the work ethic necessary to succeed on this level.”
He said a solid corp is returning next year.
“I feel the kids coming back, boys and girls, will take our program to new heights,” Dailey said. “And that success will be due in part to what this senior group was able to accomplish. Thank you ladies, you will be in my heart forever.”
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