Lady Panthers return for gold
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 12:00 pm
By RANDY CAVIN
This year, the trophy is gold.
The Martin Middle School girls out-battled a tough Bolivar squad for a 31-22 win in the West Tennessee Sectional Tournament Friday night at the MMS gymnasium.
The Lady Panthers had to overcome some first half miscues and foul trouble to beat the Lady Tigers in front of a very excited home crowd.
It is the first championship for the Lady Panthers since the 2002-03 season and a bit of redemption after losing last year’s championship game.
“These girls are so excited right now after making it to the championship game last year and not winning it,” Martin head coach Paige McMillan said. “That Bolivar team is a great team and they are young. That is the scary part.”
Bolivar came into the game with a 17-1 record, while Martin entered the game with a 15-5 record. The Lady Panthers will be recognized at the TSSAA State High School Basketball Tournament finals as the West Tennessee champions.
Tasia Jones was named tournament MVP. Joining her on the all-tournament team from Martin were Lydia Pritchett and Heidi Craddock.
The Lady Panthers started out sluggish in the game by turning the ball over and getting into foul trouble. Martin was called for seven team fouls in the first period but still led 7-4 at the end of one.
Fouls kept haunting the Lady Panthers in the second period as well. Bolivar made 5-of-7 shots at the line, including a 3-point conversion for a 12-10 advantage with 2:57 to play in the half.
Martin quickly answered that 3-point play with a 3-pointer by Mary Katherine Tucker 15 seconds later to go back on top, but that lead did not last long as Bolivar’s Kamya Brown hit one from long range.
Pritchett tied the game at 15-all with a short jumper before Tamia Puckett hit the front end of a pair of free throw attempts to send Bolivar into the break with a 16-15 lead.
“We came out the other night nervous in the first quarter, and I think we did that tonight,” McMillan said.
Both teams had several shots under the basket, but neither could get anything to fall. Bolivar only scored twice on two baskets, while Martin got one free throw from Craddock and a 3-pointer by Pritchett.
The Lady Tigers led 20-19 going into the final period, but Jones tied the game four seconds in on the back end of a pair of attempts from the charity stripe.
Jones gave the Lady Panthers a brief two-point lead on a drive to the basket before Bolivar tied it at 22-all on a basket by Hailey Hardaway.
Pritchett put the Lady Panthers on top for good when she was fouled making a shot under the basket. She converted the 3-point play to make it a 25-22 game. Jones scored the next four points for the Lady Panthers on one basket and two foul shots.
Chesney Ross scored Martin’s final points of the game on a pair of free throws with 1:17 left to play. Ross held on to the ball.
Jones finished with nine points, six steals, seven deflections and four assists.
Pritchett shared the game-high in points with Bolivar’s Alexius Futrell with 12. Pritchett led the Lady Panthers with seven rebounds. Tucker and Craddock scored three points each, while Davis and Ross both scored two. Published in The WCP 2.12.13
Lady Panthers return for gold