Game of emotions: Lady Tigers edge out win over Lady Bulldogs in heated contest, 62-57

Published 12:40 am Saturday, December 16, 2017

When Jefferson County High School plays a game against Natchez, Lady Tigers coach Flora McKnight knows there will be lots of emotion.

McKnight’s thought came true Friday night as JCHS defeated the Lady Bulldogs, 62-57, despite five lead changes in front of a packed house.

“It was another good win,” McKnight said. “They were happy. I know they are enjoying themselves, and they deserve to.

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“Natchez played well, and I expect them to because we are rivals.”

The key to victory, McKnight said, was staying calm.

“We know they aren’t going to lay down,” she said. “We had to make big stops. In this game, there are 10 people who want one ball. That’s how the game is supposed to be played.”

The game’s first basket didn’t come until nearly midway through the first quarter, but it surely wasn’t lackluster.

Jefferson County’s Dea’Breaun Turner scored on a three-point play after the beginning to a long night of fouls for Natchez.

The Lady Bulldogs (4-3) kept up, however, trading baskets before trailing by three points at the end of the first period, 10-7.

Energy remained high in the second quarter, and the Lady Tigers were able to outscore Natchez by another three points for a 25-19 lead at the break.

“Some of (our players) are really hurting, and I like to see that,” Natchez coach ShaRhonda Gipson said. “That means they are figuring out now that maybe they aren’t pushing themselves hard enough.”

Natchez wasn’t going to go down without a fight, scoring 21 points in the third quarter of which freshman Kelsey McNeal scored seven.

McNeal took a headstrong approach straight to the basket on two layups and also added a 3-pointer to end with 12 points in the game.

“She is like that all the time,” Gipson said. “She will get my hustle award today.”

Natchez’s Candi Gray also scored seven points in the third quarter despite missing most of her usual 3-pointers on the night.

“She wasn’t hitting it, but she did make some key drives,” Gipson said. “I just tired to tell her to find what works for her.”

While the Lady Bulldogs found a late spark, their foul trouble