Thursday, March 8, 2012
Lady Lions win gold again
By CLAUDE VINSON
One might say that arguably the Lady Cougars of Coldwater and the Lady Lions of H.W. Byers are two of the best teams in all the state in girls basketball. One could certainly narrow that down and say they are by far the best teams in Class 1A. Both their seasons had been building to this final crescendo which was struck in “The Big House” on March 2.
In this game to decide just who would rule the roost for another year, the Lady Lions and the Lady Cougars looked almost even. One must give the “almost” great consideration.
They traded the lead early on and ended up tied at 9 about midway the opening quarter. Both squads were making some uncharacteristic misses. The Lady Lions were clean at the free throw line, sinking five in a row. They won the first round by 15-13, holding Jerontay Clemons to a single point at the charity stripe.
One must also remember that each of these squads has a Dandy Dozen player, Alexis Hardaway for Byers and Clemons for Coldwater. The latter tried hard to turn into the one woman “wrecking crew” image that she has shown throughout these playoffs. Fortunately, she was having success only at the foul line early on. Conversely, her counterpart on the Lady Lions was displaying her full resume and accounted for the slim lead (35-33) which Byers held at the break.
Clemons starting hitting from the field in the third quarter, but Hardaway had settled into a productive groove and coupled with some timely treys from Abria Gulledge, the Lady Lions achieved their first double-digit difference at 49-39.
Just prior to that, Kyra Gulledge, who had seen limited action in the second quarter, had to leave the game with a knee injury. The loss of one of the team’s premier players only seemed to spur the Lady Lions on. No matter how hard the Lady Cougars pushed, Byers kept them seven points away from the lead. The score was 51-44 at the end of the third frame.
Despite 50 percent shooting from the line, the Lady Lions never lost sight of the mission of acquiring that fourth Gold Ball in five years. Richenda Crutcher and Justice Martin joined the campaign and kept the Lady Lions at a safe distance the remainder of the way. They won with a final tally of 74-69.
The victory lent credence to the coach Jason Thompson’s prophecy that, “Five good players would win over one good player, any day.”
Hardaway was tapped as Most Valuable Player and led the victors with 24. Martin was very close behind with 21, followed by A. Gulledge with 15 and Crutcher with nine.
Coldwater’s Clemons scored a game-high 40 points (23 coming in the fourth quarter) and teammate Charmaine Stackhouse tossed in 11.
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