Kirkwood, Central Private turn it on to down ACCS

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 5, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; A classic was brewing in the Adams County Christian School gym during the consolation final between ACCS and Central Private Saturday.

Then, poof. Before you figured out which Lady Rebel you were rooting for, the one that drove up 90 miles to participate in the Cellular South Miss-Lou Classic had pulled ahead.

The result was an 8-0 run to end the first half for Central Private (9-2), which looked more like themselves in the final 16 minutes in a 59-43 victory.

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&uot;We started off real slow, but finally started to pick it up there toward the end of the first half,&uot; said Samantha Kirkwood, who had three buckets in the final 43 seconds to spark the run. &uot;Our game is to run the floor. This tournament had some good competition and we had to pick it up a bit.&uot;

Early on the ACCS Lady Rebels (7-3) showed no intimidation against one of the most well-groomed teams in all of Mississippi Private School Association.

However, the run abracadabra-ed a pair of 21s turn into one, as Central Private carried a 29-21 lead into the break, thanks in large part to the six points from Kirkwood, who had not scored in the period until her first basket with 43 ticks left.

She led all scores with 18 points.

&uot;With like a minute to go we turned it over three or four times and it went from being tied to an eight-point lead,&uot; ACCS head coach Bruce Pickle said. &uot;We couldn’t get it going in the second half. But I’m proud of our effort. They really busted their tails for me.&uot;

Out of the gates in the third period Central Private built its lead into double digits, 43-23, for the first time all afternoon on the heels of a 14-2 run when Kirkwood laid one in via transition.

Head coach Hugh Webb did not recite his halftime speech, but he explained to the girls that things had to improve to meet his standards.

&uot;We came out and played well in the third quarter after playing about even with (AC) in the first half,&uot; Webb said. &uot;(The AC Lady Rebels) didn’t have the same intensity as the first half. We had a come-to-Jesus meeting in the locker room and came out and played ball in the second half.&uot;

For the first 15 minutes, 17 seconds it was apparent the visiting Lady Rebels were still feeling the effects of a Friday night hangover with Parklane.

Central Private, expected by many to face off with Brookhaven in the finals, fell 59-57, despite having a chance for the win.

&uot;That was a major disappointment for us. Parklane is certainly one of the tope teams in MPSA,&uot; Webb said. &uot;They’re well coached and they whipped us. We had the last shot to win or tie it and it didn’t fall.&uot;

On Saturday the Webb’s Lady Rebels did not have to fret over a desperation heave. By the time AC’s Morgan Rayborn knocked in a pair of free throws with 38.1 seconds left the game was in hand.

April Boyd, who led AC with 11 points, scored the game’s first bucket and Nikki Hankins followed with a three-pointer, as the Lady Rebels jumped out to a 5-0 lead.

That was AC’s biggest lead of the day, as Central Private began swarming to the ball on defense and forcing the homestanding Lady Rebels into turnovers and bad shot selections.

If CP can pin you with its defense underneath its goal, forget about it.

&uot;We’ve got to get stronger. When they double team us, there needs to be a girl that comes back for the ball,&uot; Pickle said. &uot;We’re waiting at the other end of the court waiting for a pass. You can’t do that.&uot;

Despite, surrendering its advantage AC hung around with the faster, more physical Lady Rebels, as Brittany Gamberi’s backdoor layup with 33 seconds in the opening quarter tied the game 12-all.

A seesawed second that saw AC hold the lead twice early before an Ashley Peairs set of free throws put Central Private back on top.

&uot;When we work and bring the intensity we need to play that full-court zone press we’re tough to beat,&uot; Webb said. &uot;Only one individual has top be out of position to mess it up. That’s what happened against Parklane. But when it works, that’s our bread and butter.&uot;

Boyd dropped in a layup of an inbounds pass with 1:38 before half to draw even for the fifth time in the period.

Then Stefanie Kirkwood created a steal on defense and finished the play off with a layup to put Central Private up 23-21 before Samantha Kirkwood found her rhythm.

&uot;I was trying to shoot outside until Coach Webb started telling me that wasn’t my game and I needed to go inside,&uot; Samantha Kirkwood said. &uot;Then, I started working the paint and penetrating more.&uot;