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Mize girls eliminate West Lincoln

JACKSON — Rookie head coach Kyle Magee has his Mize LadyBulldogs one victory away from making state basketball tournamenthistory. Magee’s girls rallied past West Lincoln’s Lady Bears 56-49in Friday night’s Class 1A semifinals.

Next up for the Lady Bulldogs (27-6) is a Thursday nightchampionship game in the Mississippi Coliseum against the FalknerLady Eagles. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

Falkner defeated Desoto Central 69-54 in Saturday’ssemifinals.

Magee saw his girls overcome an 8-point, 40-32 deficit at thestart of the fourth quarter. They were powered by 6-foot seniorcenter Rosemary Green’s 22 points and 14 rebounds.

“We’ve had to come from behind the last four games to win in thefourth quarter,” said Magee. “I told my girls before the lastquarter started, ‘Don’t put your hand in this huddle if you don’tbelieve we’re going to win.'”

West Lincoln (27-5) had led by as much as 10 points in the thirdquarter. The Bears went up 40-30 when guard Erica Shaw cashed in asteal with a layup and 1:23 showing on the scoreboard clock. Theirlarge following of fans, dressed in green, celebrated by swaying tothe music between quarters and timeouts.

Mize outscored the Bears 24-9 in the fourth quarter. TheBulldogs took the lead at 50-49 when sparkplug guard Shalacey Mageemade a steal and scored a layup with 1:22 left to play. They got aputback and 2 free throws from Green and 2 free throws from CaitlinBryant while holding West Lincoln scoreless.

The Bears had scored their final points with 2:17 left to playon Monica Price’s layup off the press. Senior forward AliciaKennedy led West Lincoln with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Kennedy had scored a career-high 34 points in Monday’s 82-61victory over West Union in the opening round. This time she was theonly Bear in double figures.

The Bears shot a cold 20 percent from the field in the firsthalf and 36 percent for the game. Mize, by comparison, shot 41percent from the field and outrebounded the Bears 44-31.

West Lincoln coach Lane Young was disappointed by the setback.His team’s 16 turnovers were critical.

“We had so many unforced turnovers when we threw the ball away,”said Young, shaking his head. “We missed three or four wide-openshots under the goal in the fourth quarter.”

During the fourth quarter, Mize made 8 free throws in a row. TheBulldogs got 12 points and 4 steals from Magee in the victory.Green scored 10 of her points in the final frame.

Coach Magee graduated from Southern Miss in December. A Mizegraduate, he had served three years as a volunteer coach to BarneyFinch who elected to retire in late December for healthreasons.

Mize athletic director Kenny Robinson elevated Magee to the topjob Dec. 30. Now Magee’s girls are one victory away from winningtheir first state title since 1944.

“West Lincoln did a heckuva job against us,” said Magee. “Iwanted to full-court press them and then go to a half-court.”

Magee pulled a small plastic basketball out of his pants pocketwhich contained a pencil sharpener inside. It serves as a good luckcharm for him and his team.

“This makes you play sharp,” Magee said with a grin.