WC girls avenge earlier loss to Port Gibson

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 9, 2004

WOODVILLE &045; Like a bad toothache that wouldn’t go away, Wilkinson County’s loss at Port Gibson last month just nagged and nagged at head coach Edwin White.

There was no use trying to look on the bright side about it being the second of 12 Region 7-3A games before the tournament. Nor was it good to talk about the Lady Blue Waves coming to Woodville in the second matchup of the two teams.

Actually, that second part was a good thing.

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The Lady Wildcats (12-5, 4-1) got a chance to redeem themselves and force a tie atop the standings with a 51-39 win over Port Gibson Tuesday at the WCHS gym. They got a better defensive effort this time around, which led to some easy shots and a lead that never got below nine points in the second half.

&uot;I felt like we could win &045; we just needed the opportunity,&uot; said White, whose club lost at Port Gibson by 13 back in December. &uot;They played well, played with a lot of poise and minimized their mistakes. We had to take care of business like we should have the first time. But right now I don’t see anybody that’s a No. 1 (in region). A lot of people put us as the top seed, but right now how everything is going it doesn’t really matter.&uot;

Another good thing about that earlier loss? It may have dictated to the Lady Wildcats they’re not as good as they thought. The loss dropped the Lady Blue Waves to 4-1 in region with two solid clubs in Franklin County and North Pike waiting in the wings.

But the redemption Tuesday night was well worth it.

&uot;It’s great after that first game,&uot; said junior point guard Latasha Williams, who led all scorers with 19 points. &uot;Coach told us we had it in us. All we had to do was do it. We basically did what the coach said. Our main focus now is on beating North Pike Friday here in our gym and playing hard. If we play the same way we played tonight, we should win.&uot;

The Lady Wildcats were able to pick up the defensive pressure in the second half after taking a 10-point lead at halftime to take control. A lapse in the fourth quarter accompanied with some hot shooting from Port Gibson allowed the lead to get trimmed to nine, 43-34, when guard Amina Palmer knocked down a shot with 5:43 left.

White immediately called for a timeout, and the Lady Wildcats got back on track. Kim Griffin hit one of two free throws before Williams put in a layup off a steal to spark a 7-0 run.

Williams put in a basket with 3:49 left for a 50-34 lead.

&uot;They’re a real good ball club,&uot; Port Gibson head coach Harold Liggans said. &uot;They shoot well, rebound well and took us to the basket. I was pretty pleased with three quarters of our play. You know, we got down 20. They’ve got a good team and are well-disciplined and well-coached. They wanted it a little badder than we did.&uot;

The Lady Wildcats never strayed from their 3-2 half-court zone defense but picked up the full-court press a bit in the second half. Griffin and Williams sparked a 13-4 run in the third quarter thanks to the press and the zone defense that took away Port Gibson’s perimeter shooters.

Griffin tossed in a bucket at the 1:44 mark, and Williams did the same 20 seconds later for a 41-21 lead.

&uot;Port Gibson missed some shots,&uot; Williams said. &uot;We fell into our 3-2 zone and were able to get on their 3-point shooters. That’s our best defense. And we got a lot of turnovers (our of the press).&uot;

The Lady Blue Waves got off to a solid start and tied the game at 13-13 early in the second before Wilkinson County got on a little roll. One of two free throws from Williams sparked an 11-1 run to end the first half with the Lady Wildcats

holding a 24-14 lead.

Port Gibson’s post players sat much of the second quarter in foul trouble, and the Lady Wildcats were able to hammer it inside for points. Rosalyn Lacey finished the run with a bucket with 32 seconds left for the 10-point lead.

Griffin finished with 13 points after missing most of the first quarter after taking an elbow to the face.

&uot;We did a good job of getting the ball inside,&uot; White said. &uot;Kim Griffin played really big for us. We had a height advantage inside. If you’ve got a height advantage, you have to utilize what you have. The outside shots weren’t falling. We went inside, and they couldn’t stop it. So why change it?&uot;