West Lincoln bashes W. Union in first state test

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, March 1, 2005

JACKSON — Senior forward Alicia Kennedy didn’t want her seasonto end Monday in the opening round of the Class 1A State BasketballTournament. Kennedy responded with a career-high 34 points, leadingthe Lady Bears to an 82-61 bashing of the West Union Lady Eagles inthe Mississippi Coliseum.

“I wanted to play my hardest, like it was the last game I’d everplay,” said Kennedy. “We wanted to jump out on them and playhard.”

Kennedy and the Lady Bears (27-4) advance to Friday’ssemifinals, meeting the South Mississippi champion Mize LadyBulldogs at 6:30. Desoto Central, a 72-68 overtime winner overMcAdams Monday night, will play North champion Falkner in the othersemifinals game.

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The Lady Bears were a step quicker than West Union (29-9) andthey capitalized. They raced to a 23-11, first-quarter lead,sparked by junior guard Brittnee Smith’s 12 points. Smith also had5 steals and finished with 16 points.

Playmaker Lauren Smith helped fuel the Green Machine with 14points, sacking 3 treys. The senior guard also had 5 assists.

“This game was one of our best,” said Lauren Smith. “We hadconfidence in our shots. West Union wasn’t as fast as we are.”

State semifinalists last year, the Lady Bears are aiming for thechampionship gold basketball trophy. They dominated West Union, theNorth Mississippi runner-up.

West Lincoln coach Lane Young was delighted to see his LadyBears shoot the lights out. “We played extremely well, consideringthe background and this being our first game in the coliseum. Beingup here last year helped us.”

Young’s girls kept up the pressure. “(Lady Eagles) got a littletired in the second quarter and we were pushing the ball down thefloor,” said Young. “That 20-point lead was good.”

West Lincoln led 46-22 at halftime and West Union neverrecovered. The Lady Eagles got a team-high 32 points from juniorforward Leann Manning but they never got on track offensively. Theycommitted 15 turnovers in the game.

“West Lincoln was red-hot,” said West Union coach Todd Nowlin.”Their defense really bothered us the first half. Our kids weretense. You can’t spot a good team 20 points.”

It was more bad news for the Eagles in the third quarter. CenterBre Ann Heard aggravated a knee injury and had to be helped off thefloor. Four seconds later, guard Hannah Carter fouled Kennedy andstepped on her foot, spraining an ankle. West Union was minus 2starters, only 59 seconds into the second half.

The Bears, dressed in green jerseys and shorts, continuedrunning, shooting and scoring. Guard Erica Shaw handed out 5assists. Monica Price grabbed 5 rebounds before fouling out with2:22 left to play.

With 2:05 left in the game and West Lincoln leading 80-56, Youngrested his starting quintet.