Lady Bulldogs buckle down to get district win

Published 12:23 am Saturday, December 5, 2009

NATCHEZ — For three quarters, the Natchez High School varsity girls couldn’t quite get over the hump against Wingfield High School Friday in their first district game of the season.

The Lady Bulldogs would consistently get within four points of Wingfield, only to see the Lady Falcons pull back ahead.

That changed in the fourth quarter, when Natchez finally buckled down, took the lead, and didn’t give it back in the final minutes. The Lady Bulldogs won 61-56 in a game that Natchez girls head coach Sue Johnson called “a very emotional” one.

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“Our girls played really tight and tense the entire game, but at the same tine, were really excited,” Johnson said.

“It was an emotional game there at the end. We got our composure and fought back with our backs against the wall. We found a way to win.”

Down 45-41 going into the fourth quarter, the Lady Bulldogs climbed back up to take the lead 54-53 with 1:41 left after a 2-point basket by Ashley Minor.

Wingfield regained the lead with 1:30 on 3-pointer by Shelley Griffith. However, it would be their last lead of the game.

After neither team scored in the next minute, Keosha Bradley got fouled on a layup that went in, and converted the free throw with 24 seconds left to put Natchez ahead 57-56.

The Lady Bulldogs scored four more unanswered points to cap off the game.

Johnson said the difference in the end was her players finally doing what they were instructed to do by the coaches.

“They decided to get back in there and listen to us instead of trying to be the players and coaches at the same time,” Johnson said.

“We would tell them to drive, and they would shoot threes. We tell them to play man defense and deny them, and they’d start sagging and letting the other team get the ball. We’d tell them which players to guard, and they guarded the ones they wanted to.

“I started sitting their butts on the bench until they decided they were going to start listening. They got their composure, came back and did what they had to do.”

Despite the big win, Johnson said her team must improve their physical play.

“Wingfield is a very high-jumping, aggressive team. They’re very physical — we have to be able to match that physicality, because it’s not going to get easier for us down the stretch.”

Anastasia Hutchins led in scoring for Natchez with 24 points. Bradley added 18 points.

The Bulldogs rose to 5-3 overall, 1-0 in district.

Wingfield 75, Natchez boys 73

After trailing by as much as 15 points at one point in the game, the Natchez varsity boys cut the lead to one with less than a minute to go.

However, the Bulldogs were unable to make key shots down the stretch, and came up on the short end Friday.

With 45 seconds left in regulation, Natchez cut the Wingfield lead to 71-70. The Bulldogs and Falcons exchanged 2-point baskets, making the game 73-72 in favor of Wingfield.

Natchez’s Joel Davis then hit a free throw to tie the game with 13 seconds left, but couldn’t make the second shot.

Natchez then fouled, and the Falcons hit two key free throws to put the game away.

Brandon Holden led Natchez with 25 points. Trevon Chatman and Jeremy McMorris both tallied 17 points.