McDowells buzzer-beater lifts Ferriday

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 31, 2005

FERRIDAY &8212; The play was designed for Jasmine Upchurch to get the ball, but no one may have panicked when senior Kiawanna McDowell had the ball with four seconds left and the Lady Trojans down by one.

McDowell has blossomed into a leader this season and has picked up her offensive game, but there was only one problem.

Somebody knocked her glasses off.

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For those who know McDowell, you can use the old line &8212; she can&8217;t see nothing without her glasses. But in the situation she was in Tuesday night against Block, she didn&8217;t have a choice. Even if everything was blurry, she had to shoot it.

And it went in just before the buzzer sounded. Ferriday came away with a 59-58 win over the Lady Bears.

&8220;I can&8217;t see anything without my glasses,&8221; McDowell confirmed. &8220;Not unless it&8217;s directly in my face. The only thing I was thinking was the time was going down. I kind of lost my head a little bit, but I really wanted to win. I just threw the ball up, and it went in. God was on my side today. That&8217;s all I can say.&8221;

It was a blessing for the Lady Trojans, who had their hardest time beating Block this time in the two team&8217;s four meetings this season. Block never went away and actually held a six-point lead at halftime.

The Lady Bears (8-6) held Upchurch down low on the possession prior when Joniqua Jefferson blocked her shot twice, but a loose ball ended in a jump ball with the possession arrow favoring Ferriday with four seconds left.

The in-bounds play under the goal was catered for Upchurch as the tallest player on the court. But it didn&8217;t happen that way.

&8220;She knew time was running out, and she had to shoot it,&8221; FHS head coach Lisa Abron said of McDowell, who finishe with 11 points. &8220;We had tried to get it into Jasmine inside, but luckily it worked out for us.

&8220;She&8217;s really stepped it up. It&8217;s time. She&8217;s a senior, and this is her first year to show what she can do. It couldn&8217;t have happened at a better time. We needed the leadership out there, and she&8217;s had a couple of good games.&8221;

McDowell&8217;s presence rose when standout senior guard Jameca Garrison was suspended the first 10 games and the team needed a steady point guard. Even near the end when the Lady Trojans went cold from the floor, she found a way to get it done.

Credit Block&8217;s defense in the fourth quarter and even on the last shot. Had McDowell missed the final bucket, Ferriday would have gone the final six minutes without a field goal.

Ferriday led by eight at one point in the fourth before Corinthia Green&8217;s free throws with 28 seconds left gave Block at 58-57 lead before McDowell&8217;s bucket at the buzzer.

&8220;We played it like I wanted them to play it,&8221; Block head coach Carl Gilmore said. &8220;She made a good shot. They were trying to get it into (Upchurch). She&8217;s a big girl. We just played better defense (in the fourth), played a little more help-side and boxed out a little better. I told them when we play a complete four quarters, we&8217;ll have a chance at the game. We had our chance.&8221;

Upchurch finished with 26, and she was the emphasis of the Lady Bears&8217; 2-3 zone they played most the game. Some of Upchurch&8217;s points came from putbacks and the foul line as the defense keyed on her with double teams down low.

Upchurch had just one field goal in the fourth quarter after hitting four and scoring 11 points in the third.

&8220;I&8217;ve been telling them all year sooner or later somebody was going to get out and double-team her, and that&8217;s what happened tonight,&8221; Abron said. &8220;We&8217;ve played Block four times, and we weren&8217;t expecting that tonight. I kep telling (Upchurch) if somebody is double-teaming you, somebody else is open on the floor. It&8217;s something we&8217;ve got to work on before district time.&8221;

Block had a 28-22 lead at half and stayed in the zone before the Lady Trojans got back in it. Upchurch converted a three-point play on the very first possession, and the Lady Trojans found success later from the perimeter when Garrison nailed a 3-pointer from way out to cut the lead to 39-38.

Garrison, in her fourth game back, put in a bucket off a steal by Ashley Atkins that gave Ferriday a 40-39 lead. Garrison finished with 18 points, and she and McDowell picked up the tempo on the defensive end as the score was tied at 44 after three.

&8220;I picked up my confidence,&8221; McDowell said. &8220;When Jameca went out, I felt somebody had to step up until she got back. We were relying on her. We&8217;re glad to have her back, but I felt I had to be a leader. I&8217;m a senior, and this is my last year. I had to pick up my game sooner or later.&8221;