Lady Bulldogs get it done late to dodge Lady Arrows

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 11, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; You’re supposed to save your best for the division tournament, but what happens when you face a team you’ve beaten convincingly twice?

Those situations can result in lethargic performances, and the Natchez High Lady Bulldogs came away with a huge scare Tuesday.

The Lady Bulldogs had beaten Clinton by 20 twice this season, but on Tuesday they had to rally in the second half and hold tight at the end to put away the Lady Arrows in the opening round of the Division 4-5A tournament at NHS.

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The Lady Bulldogs (23-3) will face Warren Central at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the finals.

&uot;That’s the one thing that scares me about this team,&uot; NHS assistant coach Sue Johnson said. &uot;When we play a team and we have beaten them convincingly, it takes the devil of these chaps to get back up for that team. They just don’t understand you’ve got to come prepared every game no matter how bad you beat somebody the first time.

&uot;But one thing they do know &045; Warren Central is going to be a whole different story.&uot;

The Lady Arrows (13-13) didn’t ever go away and cut the lead to 39-38 with a layup from Miranda Anderson with 2:41 left in the game. While Natchez answered on its next trip down the floor with a basket from Gloria Lewis, Clinton had chances after that to put more points on the board.

Instead, the Lady Arrows got just a free throw after that and a whole bunch of iron and rattles before the buzzer sounded.

&uot;We had some really good looks,&uot; Clinton head coach Gary Miller said. &uot;We start three freshmen, and this is a lot of pressure on them. We’ve started three freshmen all year, and they’ve come a long way. It’s just (tough) when you put them in a put-out game. But I’m proud of them. We played as well as we could.&uot;

The Lady Arrows had two misses at the basket before freshman post Katora Lewis went to the line and hit one of two with 35 seconds left to cut the lead to 41-39. But they had to foul after Natchez called a timeout, and Karmethia Mazique hit two free throws with 22 seconds left for the 43-39 lead.

A 3-point attempt with seven seconds left didn’t fall for Clinton, either.

&uot;We just had an off night, but we came together at the end,&uot; said Mazique, who finished with eight points. &uot;Defense was killing us. We were letting them get way too many free throws. We made our free throws when we had to and made our shots when we had to. We’ve got to play defense (Friday). If we play defense, we’ll win.&uot;

The Lady Arrows cut the lead to 30-29 just inside the fourth quarter when they got a 3-pointer from Shundrell Spann, but right after that Anderson went to the bench with four fouls.

Anderson was Clinton’s best threat at stopping Natchez High post Crystal L. Brown, and the Lady Bulldogs 7-2 run before Anderson checked back into the game 2 1/2 minutes later.

&uot;It definitely hurt us,&uot; Miller said. &uot;She’s our best rebounder, shot blocker and leading scorer around the post. It took the inside scoring away, but we didn’t have a lot. We missed too many shots under the basket.&uot;

Brown and Tahiti Brown teamed up in the low post during the run, and Crystal Brown hit the first five points before Tahiti Brown scored at the 4:25 mark to give the Lady Bulldogs a 37-31 lead.

Crystal L. Brown finished with 18 points.

&uot;CB is our pride and joy,&uot; Mazique said. &uot;When she gets rolling, she gets everybody rolling because that opens up everything for everybody else. Tahiti came through for us, too. She came through and made some shots when we needed them.&uot;

Clinton started off the game stronger and took a 14-9 lead heading into the second quarter. Mazique hit a 3-pointer to highlight a 12-4 run that ended with a basket from Tahiti Brown at the 3:03 mark for a 21-18 lead.

Clinton, however, got a 3-pointer from Spann and a free throw from Markeesa Hughes to take a 22-21 lead.

&uot;It was a sluggish start and sluggish through the game,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;We had little spurts. We weren’t our best defensive selves tonight. We were telling them to penetrate the lane the whole game, but it was like they froze up. We didn’t play our game.&uot;