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Lady Rebels get win on final-minute free throw in AYA tourney

NATCHEZ — With her player on the foul line and the game itself on the line, Farm Bureau Lady Rebels coach Maggie Ray made a plea to the Lord.

Whether it was God’s intervention or human effort, Ray liked the result either way.

The Lady Rebels’ Carlie Delaney hit one of two free throws with a little more than a minute to play to break a 3-3 tie against the Woodhaven Company Lady Green Wave.

With neither team scoring in the final minute, the Lady Rebels held on to earn a hard-fought victory in the AYA third- and fourth-grade girls championship game at Adams County Christian Tuesday night.

“I was praying, ‘Dear Lord, please let it go in,’” Ray said.

“But then again, I have confidence in my players, because we practice free throws every practice.”

The Lady Rebels got out to an early 3-0 lead at the end of the first half thanks to a free throw and field goal by Chaisley Perea.

But the Lady Green Wave wouldn’t go away quietly, tying the game 3-3 in the fourth quarter on a field goal by Hailey Ellis and a free throw by Baylee Graning.

But the Lady Green Wave were charged with a flagrant foul on Delaney, sending her to the line and sealing the win for the Lady Rebels.

The win was twice as nice for Ray and fellow coach Tory Laird, who both won the AYA third- and fourth-grade championship game when they were younger.

“We all worked really hard for this,” Laird said.

And Ray couldn’t have been happier for her players.

“This feels awesome. We worked so hard, and I know the girls wanted it so badly. It feels great,” Ray said.

Calcote Gators 30,

Natchez Ford Saints 16

The third- and fourth-grade boys didn’t quite have the nail-biter as their female counterparts, but there was plenty of scoring to go around.

Led by Brent Thibodeaux and Dalton Hayles, the Calcote Gators defeated the Natchez Ford Saints to claim the third- and fourth-grade crown.

Thibodeaux scored 11 points and Hayles added nine for the Gators. Greg Thomas, who finished with six points, led the Saints.

Gators head coach Jamie Tyson said the road to a championship was harder for his team this year, but his players stepped up when they needed to.

“We won a game last week where one player scored 20 points,” Tyson said. “I told them they couldn’t play like that if they wanted to win tonight, that they needed to play as a team. Tonight, they stepped up.”

And the win was also sweet for Tyson himself.

“This is my third year to go undefeated in the regular season, but I didn’t win the championship the last two years,” he said. “This one feels pretty good.”