Natchez High's Rashonae Rice's jumps to shoot a lay-up in the first half of the girls basketball game against Wilkinson County High School. (BRITTNEY LOHMILLER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT)
Natchez High's Rashonae Rice's jumps to shoot a lay-up in the first half of the girls basketball game against Wilkinson County High School. (BRITTNEY LOHMILLER | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT)

Natchez High girls put on second half show, beat Wilkinson County 82-50

Published 11:48pm Tuesday, December 10, 2013

NATCHEZ — It looked like the Natchez High School Lady Bulldogs were going to be handed their first loss of the season when they went into the locker room down 29-26 against Wilkinson County High School.

This was the first time this season that Natchez trailed at the half, and head coach Alphaka Moore said it was because her players weren’t ready to play.

“They were not in game mode, they take everybody as a joke and you have to come out and play everybody the same and they saw that (Tuesday),” Moore said. “This is the first scare they’ve gotten this season.”

But the second half saw a boost of energy that blew Wilkinson County out of the water 82-50.

Rashonae Rice led the Lady Bulldogs with 23 points and Zyaire Ewing scored 20 on her first consistently productive night this season. Kirdis Clark and Kiana Jones tallied 12 and 11 points, respectively.

For the Lady Wildcats, Alexis Parker scored 11 point while Gadrieka Cotton added 10 points.

The first half was a back-and-forth game between the teams as Clark scored first for Natchez on a steal and assist from Rice.

At the 4:50 mark, Wilkinson’s Lineasia Palmer drove through traffic and banked it in, but Jones had the response for the Lady Bulldogs on a corner-pocket three-pointer to go up 7-2.

Things turned bad for Natchez when Cotton scored a put back lay-up that put the Lady Wildcats within one point before Erielle Jackson came down and hit a three-pointer from the wing to go up 9-7.

By the end of the first quarter, Wilkinson was up 13-10. Natchez came out in the second quarter in what looked to be a strong effort, but turned out to only be that in spurts.

The Lady Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run to take the lead 16-13 before Parker tied the game at 17 on a short corner jumper at the 4:34 mark for Wilkinson.

Natchez went into a 2-3 zone to try to stop the Wildcats, but it didn’t seem to do much damage as Ambernehia Palmer went on a 4-0 run single handedly to give Wilkinson a 29-26 lead at the half.

Moore said her half-time speech consisted of telling her players that they’re downplaying themselves and if they play at their full potential, they’ll see a different result at the final buzzer.

“I had to make it clear to them that losing is not an option,” she said. “Once they saw the seriousness of the situation, they started to pick it up. The issue was not what we were running, it was how they were doing it.”

Her speech was all that her players needed as it seemed the “old” Lady Bulldogs returned for the remainder of the game as they went on a 28-12 run powered by Ewing’s 18-point third-quarter performance.

The Lady Wildcats didn’t score their first point until the 5:40 mark of the third on a lay up by Fredricka Scott, that score was followed by Cotton for the last lead Wilkinson would see, 33-31.

From there, Natchez got aggressive in its full-court press to go on a 24-7 run to end the third quarter ahead 57-38.

The Lady Bulldogs continued their strong defensive presence and closed the game out 82-50.

Wilkinson County head coach Trimeka Gaines said their second half collapse was the result of a lack of leadership on her team.

“First and foremost, we are lacking leadership and we gave up,” Gaines said. “It’s going to take our senior players to motivate our freshmen to play hard.”

Gaines said her players never fought to try to get the game within reach again once they went down by 18 in the third quarter.

“We stopped playing good solid defense and we had a lot of turnovers,” she said.

The Lady Bulldogs play in the Miss-Lou Hoops tournament against Vidalia High School at 4 p.m, Friday.

Natchez High Boys 70, Wilkinson County 52

The Bulldogs have advanced to 7-0 on the season with their 70-52 win against Wilkinson County High School Tuesday.

Natchez outscored the Wildcats in all but the fourth quarter to cruise past Wilkinson County at home.

De’Arius continues to lead the Bulldogs in scoring with a 16-point performance as Dominique Mazique and Michael Morris both scored 11 points as well.

Khan Jarvis led Wilkinson County with 13 points while Allenzae Staggers had 12 points.

The Bulldogs play in the Miss-Lou Hoops tournament against Vidalia High School at 5:30 p.m. Friday.