Thursday, February 24, 2011
Lady Lions win north, advance to state
By CLAUDE VINSON
The H.W. Byers Lady Lions swept through Class 1A North Half competition last week for the championship.
After the satellite game played at the Lions’ Den in which they eliminated Falkner, the Lady Lions drew the Coffeeville Lady Pirates in the second round at host Coldwater.
Byers came out in the attack mode Thursday night, and it would be three quarters later before coach Jason Thompson would slow the Lady Lions down.
They wasted no time in putting points on the board. The scoring was distributive, but Kourtney Coleman and Kyra Gulledge were showing the way. The first frame ended with a 23-9 posting.
The Lady Lions never stopped pushing the ball. Abria Gulledge and Coleman got their three balls working. Their shots were falling consistently. The defense kept the Lady Pirates at nine until the last two minutes of the quarter. Coleman and K. Gulledge were clearing the boards. Byers was up 41-17 at intermission.
The third saw a slow down, but in scoring only. The offense was still crisp and speedy and the defense just as smothering, holding the opposition to four points, 58-21.
Byers rolled to a 63-29 final score while advancing to the semis.
The Lady Lions had four shooters in double figures. Coleman stuck 21 to lead the floor, followed by Alexis Hardaway with 12, and A. Gulledge and K. Gulledge with 11 each.
Madison McCreless came off of the bench in relief and added five.
Tayanna Pernell led the Lady Pirates with 10 and teammate Nicole Griffin pitched in eight.
Byers downs Shaw
Head coach Jason Thompson said his team had never met the Shaw Lady Hawks on the hardwood, however, they had seen them in action in the Magic City Showdown in the Lions’ Den back in December.
Despite the fact the Lady Hawks were faster than they looked and their early 6-2 lead and even their 11-10 difference at the end of the first period, the Lady Lions were undaunted.
In the second quarter of Friday night’s semi-final contest, there was little doubt that this was a Byers team which was thinking of a higher purpose at a greater distance. They had traveled this road before. A few times. So K. Gulledge and Coleman took control early in the second frame. Aided by some aggressive defense from Hardaway, Richenda Crutcher and Precious Rogers, they soon had the lead and kept boosting it until it reached a 17-point difference at the half (33-16).
In the third the Lady Hawks’ fan base came alive and began egging them on. They cut Byers sizeable lead down considerably but let it grow again to 44-29 at the end of three. They couldn’t sustain the energy in the final period and bowed out 55-33.
K. Gulledge assaulted the nylon for 25. Coleman hit for 15 and Hardaway put up nine.
Crystal Nailer and Krystal Short led the Lady Hawks with 11 and 10, respectively.
Byers takes crown
On Saturday night, Byers met Coldwater in the game which would decide the number one and two seeds for the state tournament in the Big House. Both of these teams and their coaches know the drill. Coach Wert Spiva and the Lady Cougars have won state championships in both the 2A and 1A classes. Jason Thompson and the Lady Lions won back to back in 2008 and 2009 (2A). They lost to McAdams (state winner) in the semis in 2010 (1A).
Both squads came out throwing it up. They traded baskets all through the first quarter with the Lady Cougars winning the three ball battle. They were also taking better care of the ball than Byers, however, the Lady Lions were having better luck in finding the bottom of the nylon. They were up 23-18 at the end of one.
In the second, Coldwater was still leading in the trey department. They had planted six to a pair for Byers. Fouls were dead even at five apiece. But, again, the Lady Lions had a two possession lead (32-28) at intermission.
In the third Hardaway was floating inside the lane giving K. Gulledge a helping hand with the rebounds and put backs. The defense was keeping the Lady Cougars at bay and they achieved their first double-digit lead at 46-36.
The final frame was pretty much a one sided game of “keep away” with the Lady Lions doing the keeping. The Lady Cougars could only add four more points for a 55-40 finish.
Scoring for Byers was 17 for K. Gulledge, 16 for Hardaway and 10 for Coleman.
High scoring for Coldwater was from Jerontay Clemons with 20. Charmaine Stackhouse and Shelby Jamison with nine and eight, respectively.
The Lady Lions will meet Bogue Chitto in the Big House on Friday, Feb. 25, at 6:30 p.m. If successful, they will move on to the finals on Thursday, February 3, at 7 p.m. versus either Ethel or Coldwater.
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