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Lady Bulldogs hard on themselves after 55-49 win vs. McComb

Natchez High School’s Zyaire Ewing jumps for a rebound during a game against McComb High School Tuesday. Natchez won the game 55-49. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Natchez High School’s Zyaire Ewing jumps for a rebound during a game against McComb High School Tuesday. Natchez won the game 55-49. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Natchez High head coach Alphaka Moore walked out of the locker room shaking her head and simply said, “We need to get back to work.”

Her Lady Bulldogs had just taken down McComb, 55-49, but it was far from what Moore wanted from her team.

Natchez led 19-9 after the first quarter of play, but from then on, McComb stood toe-to-toe with the Lady Bulldogs and gave them a fight down to the final buzzer.

“Honestly, this was one of our worst games,” junior center Zyaire Ewing said. “We have to work on gelling on the court like we were at the beginning of the season. We were rushing, getting nervous and making crazy passes. We just have to focus and come together as a team.”

The Lady Bulldogs rode Ewing to victory, as she led all scorers with 27 points in the contest.

“This was a game for Zyaire to do well,” Moore said. “She had a mismatch down low, so every time that happens, it is time for her to handle business.”

Natchez entered the game off their first loss of the season, which came in the championship game of the Coca-Cola Hattiesburg Holiday Tournament to Brandon, and Moore said that that loss could have possibly been lingering in the minds of the girls.

“Every game is a new one,” she said. “We just had to shake that off and get back to work.”

Natchez appeared to be in control of the game early, running their full-court press and forcing turnovers. But foul trouble hurt the Lady Bulldogs, with key players racking up personal fouls early.

“We just weren’t playing well defensively,” Moore said. “There were a lot of things defensively that we weren’t doing that we should have been.”

Leading by 11 at halftime, Moore and her team had to fight off a surging Lady Tigers team. McComb hung within ten points most of the way, and were able to make a move late in the fourth quarter when Natchez starting point guard Ernesha Chatman fouled out.

Down just four, McComb went to a pressure defense, but the Lady Bulldogs had an answer in Ewing, who sealed the game converting an and-one in the closing seconds.

“It wasn’t a lot of pressure because I’m used to it now,” said Ewing of having to carry the load. “I just needed them to have my back.”

Natchez is able to chalk the game up in the win column, but more importantly, they will be able to use it as a wake up call.

“I think as a team, we underestimated them,” Ewing said. “We were going off how they played last year instead of being humble and playing every team the same way.”

Along with Ewing’s big night, Chatman chipped in with seven points and Rashonae Rice added six of her own.

Mylisha Hammond led McComb in scoring with 18 points.