Thursday, March 7, 2013
Hinds AHS next in title contest
By BARRY BURLESON
Before and after every practice this season, the H.W. Byers Lady Lions have huddled to shout – “three-peat.”
The opportunity arrives this Thursday afternoon at Mississippi Coliseum.
“That’s what we’re after,” coach Jason Thompson said after a 72-35 Class 1A semi-final rout of Bogue Chitto Friday morning. “That’s something that’s never happened before for us.”
The Lady Lions have visited Jackson for the State Tournament seven straight seasons. They won back-to-back Class 2A championships in 2008 and 2009 and back-to-back 1A crowns in 2011 and 2012.
Byers is hungry for three state titles in a row and five in the last six seasons.
“These girls have worked hard and they’re very deserving of this opportunity,” Thompson said.
Bogue Chitto was a victim of the machine from Marshall County for the third straight year.
“We knew coming in what we were going up against (in H.W. Byers),” said Christi Terrell, head coach of the Lady Bobcats. “Their pressure takes a toll on you. They get on you and they stay on you.”
That pressure forced 38 Bogue Chitto turnovers.
“I’m really not surprised,” Terrell said about her team’s mistakes. “Byers is just that good.”
Thompson said it’s all about the team’s motto – “no mercy” – which is on the front of the players’ T-shirts they wear in pre-game warmups.
“The kids have bought into conditioning hard, and we know our pressure is going to have an impact,” he said. “We know if we keep applying it, you will turn it over.”
The Byers girls, as typical, stormed out of the starting gate and led 45-16 at halftime.
“We wanted to get off to a good start and try to set the tone for the game,” he said. “I’m blessed with talent – with kids who want to go out and compete and be successful.”
They were without the services of senior and leading scorer Madison McCreless, who broke a bone in her foot during North Half competition.
“It’s hard,” she said about watching from the bench, “but I have great teammates.”
Coach Thompson said there can be no excuses when it comes to his team going for its goal.
“We miss Madison and it’s tough,” Thompson said. “She’s developed so well and had the best season of her career.
“But we just have to keep on persevering and get it done. Others have to carry the load.”
One who stepped up and helped Friday was Abria Gulledge, who had not played since November 6, 2012, due to an injury.
She drilled a three with 45 seconds to go in the first quarter to put the Lady Lions up 21-10.
“I put her in and she immediately produced,” Thompson said.
H.W. Byers (27-5) faces Hinds AHS (28-6) at 1 p.m. Thursday for the Class 1A state championship.
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