Thursday, March 4, 2010
By CLAUDE VINSON
Unlike their previous two trips to the Big House in Jackson for the State Basketball Tournament, the Lady Lions faltered in their contest with the Lady Bulldogs of McAdams High School out of Attala County.
The H.W. Byers girls, two-time defending 2A champs, were not showing a lot of flash in the opening quarter of this Class 1A state semi-final contest. There didn’t seem to be the zest with which they are known to attack the basket and mount a smothering defense. McAdams, the defending 1A champ, was grabbing most of the rebounds and running the floor with ease. The Lady Bulldogs led after one quarter by four points at 12-8.
Coach Jason Thompson said there was a “tremendous amount” of tentativeness from his Lady Lions out of the starting gate.
“We just didn’t have the experience that McAdams had in that big arena,” said Thompson, who was in a rebuilding year after losing five seniors from the season before. “I only had four players on the team from last year and only two had played there (in Mississippi Coliseum). Experience meant a lot in the outcome.”
The Lady Lions were still appearing a bit timid in the second frame. They didn’t closely contest the three points shooting of Kierra Gilmore and Kanesha Phillips. Each hit a pair of treys and moved out to a seven-point margin at 26-19 at the midway break.
“McAdams got off to a good start, and we just couldn’t get a break to get over the hump,” Coach Thompson said.
The third frame saw the Lady Bulldogs playing a completely defensive game and H.W. Byers was still making turnovers and mishandling the ball. The majority of their trips down the court yielded just one shot. In the meantime, the Lady Bulldogs’ Kierra Gilmore was having a lot of success on steals, running the floor and laying it up. McAdams was living up to its 27-2 record. The reigning 1A champs were playing well and went into the final period with a 17-point lead at 43-26.
The Lady Lions who entered with a record of 27-7, just were not playing to their full potential. However, they did begin applying pressure in the final quarter and looked as if they were on a comeback. They cut into the Lady Bulldogs’ lead more than once but each time failed to stop the scoring by McAdams. The Lady Bulldogs, with a 56-44 win, propelled themselves into the championship game on Thursday, March 4, against the Myrtle Lady Hawks, a winner over West Lincoln in the semi-finals.
“My girls showed their true character in the fourth quarter,” Thompson said. “They never quit, and that’s what got us to Jackson. We had a tough road just getting there.
“This group overcame a lot during the season, but in the end, McAdams had more fight and experience than we did.”
Kyra Gulledge and Alexis Hardaway led the Lady Lions with 13 points each, followed by Kourtney Coleman with with 10 and Brionne Gulledge with eight. Gulledge had 16 rebounds.
Kierra Gilmore paced McAdams with 21. The Lady Bulldogs also got 12 from Kanesha Phillips, and 10 from Kierra’s twin sister, Dierra Gilmore.
Byers finished 27-8 overall (25-3 versus in-state squads).
“This team proved it could play – even after losing the great players we lost last year,” Thompson said. “They believed, over-achieved and accomplished a lot this season. It was a great season – fun year with a great group of kids.”
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