January 24, 2013
The Coldwater bus was late getting to H.W. Byers Friday night, perhaps a sign of bad fortunes to come for the visitors.
Byers teams collected Region 2-1A victories, highlighted by the Lions’ upset of the top-ranked Cougars
“That was fun,” a happy coach Trey Lawrence said after his team’s 84-80 win. “The key for us is playing hard. We played hard for 32 minutes tonight against a fantastic team, number one in the state (in Class 1A) and defending state champions.”
A fired-up bunch of Lions led by as many as 18 in the third quarter but this one was far from over.
The Cougars sliced it to eight (67-59) at the end of the period.
Byers, with A.J. Mabon and Chris Echols doing most of the clutch work, managed to hold on down the stretch. Mabon’s free throw with three seconds left sealed the deal.
“I told our guys at halftime (with a 46-35 lead) that they would make a run and we couldn’t panic,” Lawrence said.
Mabon finished with 30 points. Echols had 23 and Ryan Seldon 14.
The Lions led by three at the end of the first quarter.
They stretched it to 10 in the second when Echols, Seldon and Mabon had consecutive buckets, forcing a Coldwater timeout.
The lead stayed double digits until the 1:25 mark of the third quarter.
“I’m proud of these kids,” said Lawrence, with a huge smile. “We did some really good stuff tonight against a really good basketball team. If we show up and play hard for 32 minutes, we can play with anybody.”
Byers improved to 9-8 overall and 2-0 in district play.
The girls game was not nearly as dramatic. The Lady Lions coasted to a 78-28 victory over the team it beat in both 2011 and 2012 for back-to-back state championships.
“Even though they’re not as good as they have been, they’re a .500 team that will make a run,” Byers coach Jason Thompson said about the Lady Cougars. “They have more fight in them. It’s hard to get rid of that tradition.”
Due to the holidays and weather conditions, the Lady Lions played just their second game in a month.
“Overall, we responded well, but we’re nowhere near clicking on all cylinders,” said Thompson, whose squad went to 13-4 overall and 2-0 in the district.
Byers started a bit sluggishly. The lead was 13-5 after one quarter.
Then relentless full-court pressure starting reaping benefits. Back-to-back buckets from Richenda Crutcher stretched the advantage to 13 points early in the second.
“Our game plan is no secret,” Thompson said. “We rely on our speed and quickness to put the other team in the position of being uncomfortable and then hopefully wear them down.”
Just before halftime, Madison McCreless converted a three the old-fashioned way (bucket and a free throw) and Justice Martin drilled a long-range shot for three. It was 37-13 at the break.
TheLady Lions went on to win by 50. Leading the offensive attack were McCreless with 22, Martin with 14 and Crutcher and Sha’Dae Nolen with 10 each.
“We hope there are no more layoffs, and we can get in the gym and reassert ourselves,” said Thompson, whose squad is ranked number one in Class 1A. “It’s time to kick it in high gear.”
Byers teams hosted West Union Tuesday. They go to Ingomar Friday and host Coffeeville Saturday. Next Monday, Jan. 28, they go to Independence and Jan. 29, they host Holly Springs.
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