• 86°

Lady Bulldogs fight off Wayne County to advance

Natchez High School’s Kirdis Clark drives to the basket against Wayne County High School during their MHSAA Class 5A second round playoff game Friday. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Natchez High School’s Kirdis Clark drives to the basket against Wayne County High School during their MHSAA Class 5A second round playoff game Friday. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Natchez High head coach Alphaka Moore did her homework, and it is bringing her and the Lady Bulldog basketball team back to the Mississippi Coliseum.

Natchez took down Wayne County in the second round of the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs Friday, 68-57, and Moore said information she received about the Lady War Eagles earlier in the week, helped her and the team prepare.

“We got a lot of information from a lot of different coaches, and it really helped us out,” Moore said. “We went off of what we heard, and it worked.”

Natchez took control of the game early, jumping out 11-0 after four minutes of play.

The Lady Bulldogs continued to hold a 10-point lead through most of the first half, and went into halftime with everything going their way, up 32-21.

With things on cruise control, Natchez built a 20-point lead, and appeared to be in for an easy finish with five minutes left in the game, but Wayne County wasn’t going to give up.

The Lady War Eagles rallied and cut the Natchez lead to just nine points, with two minutes left to play.

“This is a really good team we played,” Moore said. “When it came down to that, the last couple of minutes was about who wanted it more. The way you have to win is with a cool head. We kind of lost that towards the end, but we were able to finish.”

Natchez found themselves struggling mainly because of foul trouble, with starting point guard Ernesha Chatman and starting center Rashonae Rice both fouling out.

But Moore was able to find a bright spot amidst the rough patch in Asia Carradine, who spelled Rice in the post and was able to log quality minutes for the Lady Bulldogs.

“I think she did really well,” said Moore of Carradine. “It’s not always about scoring points, it is about what you contribute, and she contributed majorly on defense. She was there when we needed her.”

Ultimately, though, the Lady Bulldogs are one step closer to their goal and to where they were last year, and Moore said she feels great about it.

“The best feeling is knowing that I will be able to feel the feeling again of stepping onto the coliseum floor as a coach,” Moore said. “Once you feel it, you want to do it again. There are so many coaches who have been there, but never go back, so to be able to and attempt to do the same thing again, is a blessing.”

Zyaire Ewing was the leading scorer for the Lady Bulldogs with 21 points in the win, and Skylar Morgan added 19 points of her own.

Curtisha Coleman led Wayne County with 36 points.

Natchez’s next game will be Thursday at the Mississippi Coliseum against the winner of Oxford and Lanier.