Lady Bulldogs’ press gives JC fits late for Tuesday win

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 5, 2003

FAYETTE &045; Crystal L. Brown felt she owed something to the team.

The standout post player for Natchez High had to sit out Friday’s huge Division 4-5A game at Clinton for disciplinary reasons, and she just wanted to make an extra special contribution the next night out.

With the score tied with 13 seconds left, Brown got her chance. She hit two free throws to help the Lady Bulldogs put away Jefferson County, 57-54, in a jam-packed JCHS gym Tuesday night.

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&uot;It just seemed like the whole game I wasn’t playing well,&uot; said Brown, who had an uncharacteristic six points for the game. &uot;I could help my team, and I had to make the free throws to win it. I’m not happy with the way I played, but the team is what matters. I had to make the free throws. If I wouldn’t have made them, we wouldn’t have won.&uot;

The free throws were the difference on the scoreboard, and Gloria Lewis added another with eight seconds left. Jefferson County (18-6) couldn’t put together anything to answer Natchez in the final seconds.

Prior to Brown’s free throws, the Lady Tigers were called for a five-second violation and had two turnovers. Their last field goal of the game came at the 2:23 mark.

&uot;Bad breaks and turnovers,&uot; Jefferson County head coach Flora McKnight said. &uot;He (the ref) made it (five-second call). I guess it was five seconds. I’ve got no comment on that call.&uot;

The bad breaks came as a result of the Natchez High press late in the game, which resulted in the Lady Bulldogs (21-3) posting an 11-0 run after the halfway mark to climb back into the lead.

The Lady Tigers answered and took a 54-52 lead with 1:42 left on two free throws from Paulesha McBride after five straight points from Travalyn Smith, but Natchez got a basket from Karmethia Mazique to tie the game up with 1:24 left.

&uot;We knew they didn’t have too many ball handlers,&uot; Lewis said. &uot;They couldn’t go right. They had to go left. It’s big, really. I got a little excited and had to calm down. With the crowd, we’ve never been in a gym like this. It’s always going to be a big rivalry when we play Fayette.&uot;

The press helped turn the tables after Jefferson County took a control of the game in the second half. After the Lady Tigers had a 47-41 lead with 5:44 left, the Natchez got a bucket each from Mazique, Lewis and Quantrita Marsaw to tie the game up.

Mazique &045; who finished with a game-high 22 points &045; knocked down a 3-pointer at the 3:25 mark to break the tie and give Natchez a 50-47 lead. Lewis followed with a layup off a steal for a 52-47 lead.

&uot;That (press) was what we had planned on,&uot; Natchez High head coach Mary Irving said. &uot;We couldn’t have gotten out without it. We would have lost the lead we had. The seniors wanted this game tonight. This was their last game against them, and it meant a lot to them. It was a good experience for the kids. Jefferson County has a real good team, and this really helped us.&uot;

The Lady Tigers were without the services of guard Shaterrica Hall, who injured knee Wednesday against Crystal Springs.

&uot;Terri out hurt us tremendously,&uot; McKnight said. &uot;(But) We had a senior bunch out on the floor. So it’s no excuse.&uot;

Natchez held a 25-24 lead at halftime before the Lady Tigers turned it on at the start of the third. A 3-pointer from Kenyatta Williams at the 5:16 mark capped a 9-0 run and gave Jefferson County a 33-25 lead. Natchez cut the lead to 33-30 on a bucket from Mazique, but Jefferson County got another triple from Williams and a bucket from LaTresha Wilson for a 38-30 lead with 2:06 left.

&uot;We made some errors that we shouldn’t have made,&uot; Irving said. &uot;We really weren’t focused right like we should have been. She (Smith) is a good player, and we’re looking at players like that down the line. It was good to have a chance to play her.&uot;