Bulldogs fall to Laurel in MHSAA Class 5A Second Round

Published 12:19 pm Monday, February 20, 2023

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LAUREL — Natchez High School’s varsity girls’ basketball team saw its season come to an end last Friday night as the Region 5-5A No. 3 seed Lady Bulldogs fell to the Region 6-5A No. 1 seed Laurel High School Lady Golden Tornadoes 56-36 in the second round of the 2023 MHSAA Class 5A State Playoffs.

Natchez High struggled to find its rhythm in the first quarter and trailed Laurel, the alma mater of current Lady Bulldogs head coach Alphaka Moore, 14-5 at the end of the quarter. The Lady Bulldogs tried their best to get back in the game in the second quarter, but their defense could not make enough stops for that to happen.

Laurel outscored Natchez High 18-11 in the second quarter and took a 32-16 lead into halftime. The third quarter was more competitive, but the Lady Bulldogs were still on the wrong end of an 13-11 advantage and were down 45-27.

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“I think we played hard for four quarters and just came up short as far as finishing the game,” Moore said. “There were situations that took us out of the game. Fouls called that slowed down our momentum. And costly turnovers. That’s something we’ll have to build on for next season.”

Faith Gutter led the Lady Bulldogs with 10 points while Mikiah Proby added seven points and Jaliyah Wright chipped in with six points. Olivia Davis, their leading scorer, was held to just five points.

Despite the loss, Moore said she was proud of the way her team played not only last Friday night, but during the season. She described the way the Lady Bulldogs played against a good Laurel team as “a group effort”, adding “I can’t say that one girl stood out.”

She then said, “They had to overcome a lot of adversity. I was impressed with the way they battled back.”

The Lady Bulldogs finished with an overall record of 14-14. Laurel’s Lady Golden Tornadoes improved to 18-8 overall and will take on Region 5-5A No. 2 seed Brookhaven High School in a girls’ quarterfinals game at 4 p.m. Friday at Pearl River Community College in Poplarville. 

The Lady Panthers upset Region 8-5A No. 1 seed Gautier High School on the road and in surprisingly decisive fashion 56-24 last Friday night.