Hutchins’ 27 points leads Natchez to win

Published 12:08 am Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NATCHEZ — With Natchez High standout point guard Keosha Bradley saddled with foul trouble in the first half and an ankle injury in the second half, Anastasia Hutchins knew she had to step up for her team in the opening round of the South State playoffs.

And boy, did she ever.

Hutchins scored 27 points as the Lady Bulldogs (16-10) routed Biloxi 71-36 to move into the South State tournament at 6 p.m. on Friday, where they will take on Hattiesburg, which is the tournament host.

“It was unexpected for me,” Hutchins said. “It was hard without my point guard (Bradley). But I had to step up and score for both of us.”

Thirteen of Hutchins’ points came in the pivotal second quarter, in which the Lady Bulldogs turned a four-point game into a blowout by outscoring Biloxi 31-11.

Bradley scored just four points in the game. She missed much of the first half after picking up her second foul and then left the game for good in the third quarter after spraining her ankle.

But with Hutchins having her career night, it wasn’t a problem.

“We’ve got to have each others’ backs,” Hutchins said. “After she went out, it was up to me and the rest of the team to step up and win the game.”

Natchez High coach Sue Johnson wasn’t surprised at Hutchins’ output. She knows what Hutchins is capable of doing.

“She’s very capable when she’s focused,” Johnson said. “And she was focused tonight. She went to sleep before the game started. I guess she needs to sleep before every game.”

But it wasn’t just Hutchins that gave the Lady Bulldogs the big victory. It was also the smothering defense they played, which never allowed the Lady Indians to get into an offensive flow.

The most points Biloxi scored in any quarter was 11.

“Without a doubt this was the best game we played defensively,” Johnson said. “We played some hungry, hungry defense tonight.”

Johnson has said the problem with Natchez throughout the season has been consistency.

But that was no problem on Monday.

“We were very consistent and played excellent defense the whole game,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to take that into Friday’s game, because it’s another do or die situation.”