Lady Bulldogs beat Terry in finale Saturday

Published 12:15 am Sunday, February 14, 2010

NATCHEZ — Shots in the arm are always helpful, but the Natchez High School varsity girls probably would have preferred a different type than the one they got Saturday in its district championship game.

With a under 2:30 left in regulation, and the Lady Bulldogs leading Terry only 46-43, Natchez’s Anastasia Hutchins got tangled up with teammate Jasmine Belton, injuring her leg and forcing her to the bench.

Natchez coach Sue Johnson called a time out right after Hutchins was helped off the floor, and the talk she had with her team seemed to work.

The Lady Bulldogs would go on to score 12 unanswered points the next two minutes of play, before Terry’s Cassie Berry hit a basket from underneath the net with 17 seconds to go. Terry would score two more points before the end of regulation, giving Natchez a 58-47 victory and the Region 6-6A title.

“We put a couple of more people in, and tried some new things,” Johnson said about the 12-0 run. “I think my girls were a little tired, so we gave some of them a breather.”

Johnson said the district trophy was a big treat for her personally.

“My birthday was Thursday, and the team dedicated the championship to me,” Johnson said. “It’s one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever gotten.”

With the win, Natchez (15-10) will host the first round of the 6A South State tournament Monday. It will face Biloxi High School in the first round. Had Natchez lost, it would have played on the road Monday.

“It means a lot, getting that home game,” Johnson said. “We need all the support we can get.”

Keosha Bradley, who led Natchez in scoring with 20 points, scored eight of the Lady Bulldogs’ 12 points in their big two-minute stretch in the fourth.

“It took a long time for her to crank up, but I’m glad she finally did,” Johnson said.

As for Hutchins, Johnson said she was OK, and should be ready to go Monday.

The Lady Bulldogs led 22-19 at the half and 38-31 at the end of the third. Although Terry never led throughout the second half, mistakes on layups and free throw shooting kept Natchez from pulling away until late in the fourth.

“I’m just waiting on the day that we hit the floor ready to go, from start to finish,” Johnson said. “People still haven’t seen what we are capable of.

“We have got to find a way to shake off the jitters, make our layups and hit our free throws.”

With the championship under their belts, the Lady Bulldogs now face an unknown in Biloxi.

“We don’t know anything about them, so I have to get on the phone,” Johnson said. “I had one of my assistants scout them a few weeks ago, and we hope to get some film on them.

“I want to call out to all the Bulldogs fans to make sure and come support the team at home Monday night.”