March 20, 2014
The magical ride continues for the H.W. Byers Lady Lions.
Last Thursday they celebrated their fourth straight state championship and their sixth in seven years.
“It’s like a fairy tale and one you never want to see end,” said Jason Thompson, the head coach behind the Lady Lions’ dynasty. “It’s fantastic – a wonderful thing.”
And, yes, it’s OK with him to call it a dynasty.
“It definitely could be presented as such,” he said. “We’ve talked about it and if you put the two parallel (Lady Lions and dynasty) – it would not be false.”
The H.W. Byers girls have made eight straight trips to Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. In addition to this year, they won Class 2A state crowns in 2008 and 2009 and claimed 1A titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
This year’s team, Thompson said, faced the biggest obstacles in grasping the gold ball again. Six seniors were missing from the season before, and four of those signed college scholarships. Plus, Byers was stepping up a classification after four years in 1A.
“This team had the most going against them,” he said. “This was not expected by a lot of folks. Myself and this team are probably the only ones who gave us a shot.
“That says a lot about these kids. They developed their skill level and they found a way. And once we got to the championship game, we said, ‘let’s finish.’”
And that’s exactly what they did, against a favored Scott Central team and Victoria Vivians, the best girls basketball player ever in the state. Byers won 69-54.
“I knew going in we had our work cut out for us but my kids were determined and extra-motivated,” Thompson said. “They said, ‘Coach, we can’t let one player beat a team.’”
Byers ran a box-and-one defense with either Jequira Thompson or Laniqua Collins guarding Vivians and the others helping double-team when she entered their area of the court.
“We wanted to make her shoot contested shots and then box her out,” he said. “It really worked like a charm.”
Vivians scored 43, but only 11 of those came in the first half, when the Lady Lions built a 30-17 lead.
For the game, she was 13 of 27 from the field, but zero of five from beyond the three-point line. She hit 17 of 21 free-throw tries.
“We did a great job of making her earn everything,” Thompson said.
Byers (25-8) has four seniors – Collins, Thompson, Miracle Duncan and Richenda Crutcher.
Three of those - Collins, Thompson and Crutcher - have won a gold ball every year of their high school career.
“That’s a remarkable run,” Coach Thompson said. “That’s very rare.”
Duncan, in her first season, went out the right way, he said. She received the Player of the Game award.
“She had a phenonemal game,” Thompson said. “Her rebounding was critical.”
He stressed again that this was a team effort.
“This group was locked in and focused and came together,” Thompson said. “Not to discount the other state championships, but this team had the tallest hill to climb.”
He thanked the Byers fans for their tremendous support, with special recognition to Eddie Dixon for his many contributions.
“He’s been the one constant for us,” Thompson said, “always taking care of the kids.”
Thompson said a couple of people asked him after last week’s championship, “How do you keeping doing it?”
A key, Thompson said, is enjoying the most recent gold ball but also progressing toward the next season.
“Enjoy it but don’t get caught up in it,” he said. “Don’t let it consume you to where you don’t put that same determination, desire and hard work into the next season. It’s a process that you want to continue.”
In other words, this dynasty isn’t satisfied.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: (662) 252-3388
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
The South Reporter
P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
©2004, The South Reporter, All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any way without permission.
The South Reporter is a member of the Mississippi Press Association.
Site managed and maintained by
South Reporter webmasters Linda Jones, Kristian Jones
Web Site Design - The South Reporter
Back | Top of Page