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Lady Bears test McAdams in semis

South Mississippi champion McAdams drew an opening round bye inthe Class 1A State Girls Basketball Tournament. After a 9-daylayoff, the Lady Bulldogs (31-4) tackle West Lincoln’s Lady Bears(26-5) Tuesday night at 6:30 in the semifinals at Jackson’sMississippi Coliseum.

West Lincoln earned the right to meet McAdams by defeating NorthNo. 2 Houlka 41-35 Wednesday night in the opening round. EastOktibbeha eliminated Sebastopol 55-41 in another opening round gameand meets North champion West Lowndes Wednesday at 1 p.m. in theother semifinals game. The state championship game is Saturday,March 13 at 1 p.m.

Young’s Lady Bears rebounded from a loss to Sebastopol in theSouth Mississippi semifinals to edge South Leake 55-52 in theconsolation game. He watched McAdams beat South Leake 51-49 in thesemifinals played at Scott Central.

McAdams defeated Sebastopol 56-43 in the South championshipgame.

“McAdams has three pretty good players,” said Young. “AshtonWashington (5-10) is probably averaging 20 points per game. She cando a little bit of everything. She can play inside and shoot thethree and handle the ball, too.”

According to Young, Washington is on the Holmes CommunityCollege protected list for players from that district.

Young said McAdams forward Ashley Brown (5-8) shoots the threeand plays in the post area. Teammate Debra Brown also shoots thethree. The Lady Bulldogs are coached by Chad Jackson.

“They (Lady Bulldogs) like to run up and down the floor a prettygood bit,” said Young. “They slowed it down against SouthLeake.”

Looking ahead to Tuesday night, Young said his Lady Bears mustreduce their turnovers and make smart decisions with thebasketball.

“We have to handle their press,” said Young. “I know they havepressed a lot in the past.

“We have to make sure we work the ball and get good shots. Wehave to make those easy shots and free throws.”

In their first state tournament test, the Lady Bears made 12 of23 free throw attempts. Houlka self-destructed at the charity line,making just 4 of 17.

Young said he was pleased with his team’s ability to adjust tothe spacious coliseum and the state tournament pressure. “Our girlsweren’t nervous at all. When we picked up full-court pressman-to-man, that got them ready to go.”

There is a level of physical strength and toughness required tobe successful in basketball, especially if the officials let theplayers use aggressive tactics. There are now bulging biceps butYoung has a strong team.

West Lincoln’s fans were concerned about Christine Hunt’s kneeinjury which she sustained late in the fourth quarter after goingfor a rebound. Hunt collapsed on the floor in pain and was assistedoff the floor by a sports medicine trainer. She left the coliseumon crutches, with her left knee encased in an ice bag.

Young said Hunt practiced Friday and appeared okay. “She’sprobably the toughest player we have. All of them are pretty tough.We will go full-blast Monday in practice.”

West Lincoln seniors lost to graduation will be starting forwardLindsay Franklin and reserve guard Kayla Shaw. Hunt’s eligibilityalso expires.

West Lincoln won its first division title in 20 years last monthand the Lady Bears are making their first state tournamentappearance in 5 years. Young saw some potential in his team whenpractice officially begin in October.

“Starting off the year, I knew if we could handle the ball, wewould be okay. Those first couple games helped us get better.

“It helped us to play North Pike and Franklin County earlybecause they press the ball,” said Young. “It was a good learningexperience for us. I thought if we could handle the pressure wewould be okay.”

Sophomore playmaker Erica Shaw does most of West Lincoln’sball-handling. She gets help from Franklin, Lauren Smith andBrittnee Smith.

In the 41-35 win over Houlka, junior post Alicia Kennedy led theLady Bears with 14 points. Erica Shaw chipped in 11 points andMonica Price 9.

Young was especially pleased with the play of reserves SavannahPalomarez, Lauren Smith and Hunt. They helped with ball-handlingand rebounding against Houlka’s tall front court.