Thursday, February 26, 2009
Second in state
By BARRY BURLESON
It was a heavyweight clash Saturday for the Class AA state championship. Unfortunately for Marshall Academy, Leake scored the knockout punch.
The Lady Rebels’ Jessie Powers hit a three from the corner with 25 seconds left. And the Lady Patriots’ last-ditch try to send the game to overtime was unsuccessful. MA lost the gut-wrenching contest, 39-36, and walked away with the runner-up trophy in the tournament played at Brookhaven Academy.
“I couldn’t ask for a better effort,” coach Craig Dailey said. “My girls played their hearts out.
“Like the public address announcer said after the game, nobody should have lost this one.”
Leake (36-3) claimed its fourth straight state crown. Marshall had lost to the Lady Rebels by 14 a week earlier in the North State title game.
“In the North State game, we played scared,” Dailey said. “In this one, we had no fear.
“We put ourselves in the position to win the game, and not many people in recent years have been in that position with them.”
Kelsey Shaw opened the game with a three and the Lady Patriots never trailed in the first quarter. They led by as many as five points when Traci Rodgers hit a three at the 2:15 mark. They were up 11-8 after one quarter.
The Lady Rebels grabbed a brief 14-13 lead with 5:14 to go in the second quarter. MA’s biggest advantage in the period was four points. Emily Burk’s three made it 21-17.
The game was tied at 21 at the half, and it was knotted at 27 after three quarters.
It was back-and-forth in the fourth.
Callie Clanton opened the final period with a three.
But Leake grabbed the lead, 33-32, at the 4:14 mark of the fourth.
The Lady Patriots tied it at 36 on Traci Rodgers’ putback with 1:22 remaining.
MA got the ball back with 1:15 remaining and seemed in control. But Leake forced a turnover with 42 seconds left, called a timeout and Powers got free for the three with 25 seconds left.
MA threw the ball in near its own goal with nine seconds to go but failed to score.
“We had the ball with a minute or so to go, and the game was tied,” Dailey said. “Everything fell into place for us, but we just couldn’t pull it out.”
Rodgers scored 18. Burk and Clanton added seven and six, respectively.
But more than anything, Dailey praised his team for its “outstanding defensive effort.”
“Holding Leake to 39 is not easily done,” he said. “This team has developed into a tremendous defensive team. They can take a game plan and put it into action.”
The Lady Patriots opened the state tournament Wednesday of last week with a come-from-behind, 37-34 win over Prairie View.
They trailed 7-0 early, 10-5 following the first period, 20-13 at the half and 24-20 after three quarters.
MA didn’t lead until Rodgers scored, was fouled and hit the free throw with 2:13 to go in the game. It was 33-31.
Burk’s two free throws in the closing seconds sealed the victory.
Rodgers was the top scorer with 21. Burk added eight.
The Lady Patriots then beat Oak Forest 50-45 in a semi-final game Friday afternoon.
MA led 23-22 at the intermission and outscored the Yellow Jackets 27-23 in the second half.
Rodgers blistered the nets with 22 points. Burk was also in double figures with 12. Clanton scored eight.
“The ball bounced our way versus Prairie View and Oak Forest,” Dailey said. “We came through in the clutch in both those games.”
Clanton, Burk and Rodgers were named to the all-state tournament team.
Marshall (33-9) was scheduled to face Marvell Academy Tuesday morning in the first round of the Mississippi Private School Association Overall Tournament at Mississippi College in Clinton. With a win, they meet Magnolia Heights Wednesday of this week at 10 a.m.
The semi-finals are Friday and the finals Saturday.
“There’s only 12 teams still kicking, and we’re one of them,” Coach Dailey said. “We’ve got a shot this week.”
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