Lady Bulldogs fall to Florence in Region 3-5A Tournament girls’ finals

Published 11:39 am Monday, February 12, 2024

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FLORENCE — Natchez High School’s varsity girls’ basketball team had a tough time getting shots to fall for much of the Lady Bulldogs’ 50-28 loss to the Florence High School Lady Eagles last Friday afternoon in the girls’ championship game of the 2024 MHSAA Region 3-5A Tournament at Florence High School.

Natchez High head coach Alphaka Moore said that Florence’s defense didn’t have anything to do with her team’s offensive woes throughout the first three quarters. Whether that was the case or not, the No. 3 seed Lady Bulldogs had no answer for the No. 1 seed and tournament host Lady Eagles.

“We struggled from the field. Probably the least (number of) points we scored all season,” Moore said. “We didn’t produce scoring-wide in that game. We just couldn’t score.”

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The Lady Eagles jumped out to a 10-4 lead on the Lady Bulldogs by the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was even worse for Natchez High as the Lady Bulldogs were shut out by Florence 12-0 to go into halftime down 22-4.

“We took a lot of shots in the beginning, but we couldn’t get anything to fall,” Moore said.

The Lady Eagles outscored the Lady Bulldogs 12-6 in the third quarter for a 34-10 advantage. Even though Natchez High got going offensively in the fourth quarter with 18 points, it was not able to put up any kind of a rally because Florence put up 16 points.

With the loss, the Lady Bulldogs fell to 21-8 overall and ended up as the No. 2 seed out of Region 3-5A. The good news is that they will be at home in the first round of the 2024 MAIS Class 5A State Tournament and they will play host to the Region 4-5A No. 3 seed East Central High School Lady Hornets out of Moss Point at 6 p.m. Friday.
“We don’t know anything about them,” Moore said.

Brookhaven High boys 57, Natchez High 50 (Sat. night)

FLORENCE — The Natchez High School Bulldogs had a chance to pull off yet another upset at the 2024 MHSAA Region 3-5A Tournament at Florence High School as the No. 5 seed took on the No. 2 seed Brookhaven High School Panthers last Friday night in the boys’ consolation game.

If only Natchez High could have gotten its free throws to go in, that upset probably would have happened. But the Bulldogs were just 4-for-15 from the line and that proved to be costly as Brookhaven High held on for a 57-50 win to finish in third place.

“We missed 11 free throws. In a close game, you can’t miss that many free throws. That was a game we could’ve won if we would’ve concentrated more at the line,” Bulldogs head coach David Haywood said. “Other than that, our effort on offense and defense was great.”

That especially was the case in the first quarter as Natchez High held Brookhaven in check offensive. The Bulldogs led the Panthers 13-6 by quarter’s end, but that momentum would not last very long.

Brookhaven outscored Natchez High 17-8 in the second quarter to go into halftime up 23-21. The Panthers then proceeded to outscore the Bulldogs 16-13 in the third quarter and 18-16 in the fourth quarter.

“We were playing hard on the defensive end and created some turnovers, which led to some easy buckets. But even though we knew the game was going to be a game of runs, we had to sustain the energy from the beginning of the game to the end of the game, which I believe we did. But we couldn’t make our free throws when we got fouled.”

Daylan Haywood led Natchez High with a game-high 18 points and James King added 11 points. Rontrell Williams led Brookhaven High with 17 points while Jaylen Haliburton poured in 11 points.

The Bulldogs fell to 14-13 overall and will be the No. 4 seed out of Region 3-5A for the 2024 MHSAA Class 5A State Tournament. They will travel to Waynesboro to take on the Region 4-5A No. 1 seed Wayne County High School War Eagles in a first-round game at 6 p.m. Saturday.