Natchez’s late push not enough

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 21, 2008

NATCHEZ — It wasn’t for a lack of trying, but the Natchez Lady Bulldogs fell to Bay High Saturday, 54-41.

The Lady Bulldogs overcame an 11-point deficit through most of the third period to get within two points of the Lady Tigers with seconds left in the game.

But despite a long 3-pointer by Keosha Bradley with 10 seconds left, Natchez couldn’t pull out the comeback.

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It took nearly three minutes of play for the Lady Bulldogs to score their first point, a free throw by Bradley at 5:16 when the Lady Tigers were already up by 7.

Natchez didn’t score a field goal until three minutes left in the first quarter.

“We got ourselves in a hole early,” said Natchez coach Sue Johnson. “We fought back good, but we should have never been in that predicament. We brought it on ourselves — we just didn’t execute early.”

The Lady Bulldogs had trouble scoring in the first quarter, throwing up seven bricks from the field in the first quarter and turning the ball over four times.

But defense kept Natchez in the game, forcing five turnovers, and Bay was up 10-16 to start the second quarter.

Natchez closed the gap and tied the game at 20 with two minutes left in the half, but two missed shots gave them a 5-point deficit to end the second quarter.

“We had a few letdowns,” Johnson said. “We let them get down the floor, and we let them get too many fast-break points when we didn’t get back. Too many missed assignments hurt us early.”

Natchez’s shooting troubles continued to start the second half — the Lady Dogs only scored 8 points in the third quarter.

But Bay gave Natchez a fourth-quarter opening that it took to stage a comeback.

The Lady Tigers traveled three possessions in a row and missed a free-throw before getting their first points of the quarter, and then turned the ball over four more consecutive times.

In the meantime, the Lady Bulldogs had scored 8 points.

At 46-50 with under a minute to go, Bradley hit two free throws to pull within two, but Bay hit a field goal and then two free throws to seal them game.

Johnson said she was impressed at the way her girls handled themselves under pressure, but she said they have a lot to work on.

“We’ll try to work on layups and work on free throws,” she said. “We only lost by 3 points, and I know we missed more than three free throws, and I know we missed more than three layups.

“But I’m proud of them. They fought back early. They didn’t just give up.”

Natchez boys 63, Bay 61 in overtime

The Bulldogs pulled out a win in a nail-biter Saturday.

Down the whole game, Natchez took its first lead with two minutes left in the fourth quarter before Bay scored at the end of regulation to send the game into overtime.

“We went up by two, then they came back and tied it,” said Natchez coach Haywood Thomas. “We hit a three, then they hit a three. It was back and forth.”

The Tigers scored off the tip-off to start overtime and took a 4-point lead, but the Bulldogs used a 6-0 run to take the final lead with 2:30 left.

From there, Natchez held tight, countering every punch the Tigers could muster.

“Our team came in sluggish to start out, but we had a ‘don’t quit, don’t quit attitude and we pulled it out on a bad night,” Thomas said. “That win felt good, just to see our kids continue to fight, to be down the whole game and succeed in the end.”

Thomas said the team started slowly for the second day in a row, possibly because the Bulldogs were coming off the end of a week full of exams.

“Our energy level has been down at times,” he said. “It’s a good thing for us that tonight it came back at the end.”