March 13, 2014
At home in the
The H.W. Byers Lady Lions find themselves in extremely familiar territory once again.
After three consecutive state titles in Class 1A, the Lady Lions will vie for a third title in 2A on Thursday, March 13, at 1 p.m. in the Big House. Their other 2A crowns came in 2008 and 2009.
The Lady Lions had to pass the usual tests – get out of District 2-2A and then North State. They did it, but as the second seed, losing to the Coahoma County Lady Panthers both times.
As a reward for their due diligence, they got to play the Newton Lady Tigers, the South State 2A champions, last Thursday in an early morning tournament opener at Mississippi Coliseum.
These Lady Tigers were not exactly pikers, having won 2A titles in 2005 and 2010.
The Lady Lions sped out to a 7-0 lead against the Lady Tigers (27-6). Abria Gulledge had popped a pair of long treys to help Byers (23-8) to the 17-12 first quarter advantage.
In the second frame, Miracle Duncan began lending her support and Byers went ahead 23-17. But on the opposing side, Autumn Taylor was not only scoring but claiming some rebounds as well on both ends. Zenobia Bracey wasn’t scoring, however, she was assisting in rebounding as were Dana Brown and Tanganyika Lloyd.
Richenda Crutcher and Laniqua Collins grabbed a collective total of 16 rebounds (eight each) in the game for the Lady Lions.
To the Lady Lions’ credit, they were running the floor well and keeping ahead of some very hungry Lady Tigers. They managed to escape into halftime with a six-point margin (30-24).
At the beginning of the third, the Lady Lions were still a little out of sync and made some tactical errors and missed some real opportune baskets. Newton was applying constant pressure. The Lady Tigers pulled to within three points of Byers before the Lady Lions began hitting again and moved out to a 10-point margin. The period ended 43-35.
In the final frame, Byers started to play like champion Lady Lions again. They withstood the Lady Tigers’ pressuring tactics and continued to grow their score. They also held Newton scoreless in the final frame.
In the end, the Lady Lions had passed yet another state tourney test with the 53-35 win in the semi-finals.
Duncan and Gulledge led the Lady Lions’ victorious effort with scores of 19 and 18, respectively. Keosha Moore and Crutcher put up five points each.
Taylor was the highest scorer for the Lady Panthers with 16. Teammates Lloyd and Brown had seven and five, respectively.
Byers (24-8) is poised to meet the Scott Central Lady Rebels (28-6) Thursday afternoon in Jackson for the state championship. Scott Central beat the Coahoma County Lady Panthers, a team which bested Byers three times this season, in the other semi-final contest last week.
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