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Late-game layup by Forest Hill dooms Natchez High girls

NATCHEZ — Alexis Collins saw daylight, and with a few steps and an easy layup, she secured Forest Hill High School a win against Natchez High School Friday night.

With the game tied 33-33 and less than 30 seconds to play, Collins took a pass on the right side of the arc, then drove uncontested past three defenders to the basket for the game-winning shot.

NHS was unable to answer, and the Lady Patriots tacked on two more points off free throws to take a 37-33 win. Lady Bulldogs head coach Alphaka Moore said a lack of communication by her players allowed Collins the opportunity to drive down a wide-open lane.

“Not talking,” Moore said was the reason for the easy layup. “They just didn’t talk. Everyone let her go through.”

NHS trailed 27-25 entering the fourth quarter, and Claresa Banks extended Forest Hill’s lead with a two-pointer at the 7:15 mark. After both teams went scoreless for almost three minutes, the Lady Bulldogs’ Zyaire Ewing made a basket to cut the lead back to two.

The Lady Patriots’ Essence Pulliam hit a foul shot at the 2:56 mark to make it 32-29 Forest Hill, but Ewing hit another field goal with 2:07 left to make it a one-point game. Pulliam sank another free throw with 1:16 to go, but Ewing rose to the occasion again, scoring another bucket with 48 seconds left to tie the game 33-33.

But Collins’ uncontested layup put an end to the Lady Bulldogs’ hopes of knocking off Forest Hill, which entered Friday’s game 18-1. Moore said she was pleased with her team going toe-to-toe with Forest Hill, even though the Lady Bulldogs were unable to get over the hump.

“I think we played very well, and I think now they have the confidence in themselves they should have had in the beginning of the season,” Moore said.

One area NHS struggled with Friday was rebounding, as Forest Hill was able to get second and third chances on shots numerous times throughout the game.

“It was a lapse of focus,” Moore said. “We just got rattled. We were very emotional, because we wanted to win (so badly), and when we messed up, they kind of shut down.”

NHS led 12-9 after the first quarter, but Forest Hill managed to tie it up 19-19 at intermission.

Zyaire Ewing turned out a strong performance for the Lady Bulldogs as she led in scoring with 16 points. Ewing added seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals to her name, but Moore was tempered in her praise of her freshman forward.

“I think she did OK,” Moore said. “I think she’ll do better in the future. She just has a lot of learning to do. She’s young.”

No one for Forest Hill scored in double digits. D’Ebonie Wilson and Alexa Dean both had eight points for the Lady Patriots.

The Lady Bulldogs fell to 14-5 on the season, 2-2 in region play.

Forest Hill 71, NHS boys 52

Dearius Griffin scored 18 points and Darius Ford added 10 points for the Bulldogs, but Forest Hill proved to be too much in Friday’s loss.

“We just didn’t execute well,” NHS assistant coach David Haywood said. “The other team executed really well all night, and we could never break their rhythm. We got behind early, and it was an uphill fight.”

NHS trailed 25-7 after one and 39-18 at the break. William Brown scored 20 points for the Patriots, and Nigel Bradley and Marvel Madievo both finished with 11 points.

NHS (9-10, 1-3) will play at West Feliciana High School Tuesday.