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Lawrence Co. boys prevail; LCHS girls bow to Florence

FLORENCE — In two close contests, Lawrence County and Florencesplit a Division 6-4A basketball doubleheader Friday night. Ingirls play, Florence broke to a huge early lead, then held on todefeat the Lady Cougars, 52-48.

In boys play, Lawrence County stayed at or near the top of thedivision standings with a 48-46 squeaker.

With their win, Bobby Lee’s Cougars improved to 16-5 overall,and 8-2 in the division. The Cougars have important road games toplay, at McComb and Mendenhall, to determine their seed in theDivision 6-4A tournament. That tournament will be played Feb.13-17, at Brookhaven.

Back on Jan. 3rd, Lawrence County managed a comfortable 19-pointwin, at home, against the Florence Eagles. It was much tougher inRankin County.

The Cougars held a seemingly safe 29-20 lead at halftime, butFlorence shot its way back into the game in a torrid third quarter.Three 3-pointers by the Cougars’ Lenquez Smith in that period wasall that kept Lawrence County in the game. Florence knotted thegame at 40-40 on a Chris Bridges 3-pointer that just beat thethird-quarter buzzer.

A tense fourth period went down to the wire. With 12 secondsleft to play, Lawrence County center Craig Tyler hit 2 free throwsthat proved to be the difference. Florence failed to get a qualityshot off in the waning seconds.

Tyler enjoyed yet another double-double, this time with 21points and 10 rebounds. Lawrence County as a team attempted 15 freethrows in the game. Tyler himself attempted all of them, going 8 of15 at the line.

Smith added 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Point guardDominique West had 8 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Chris Bridges led Florence with 15 points, and Tana Jones added12. Great free-throw shooting gave the Eagles a chance. Florenceconverted 16 of 17 attempts from the free throw line.

The LCHS Lady Cougars soundly defeated Florencein their first meeting but not much has gone right for the LadyCougars since then. Friday’s 4-point loss was the seventh straightfor Lawrence County, which fell to 6-15 overall. Vicki Rutland’steam is 2-8 in Division 6-4A play.

Tinesha Mangum led Florence with 20 points. Jasmin Trigg added11 as the Lady Eagles improved to 3-22 on the season.

A miserable first quarter spelled doom for the Lady Cougars.LCHS trailed 16-3 after one period, and the Lady Eagle leadactually got as large as 20 points early in the second quarter,before Lawrence County came alive.

Jonika Walton kept Lawrence County in the game with a tremendouspersonal effort. She had 15 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5steals. Walton shared scoring honors with Fiere Brown, who also had15 points. Erical Bryant added 9 points and 7 rebounds.

Florence still led comfortably through three quarters, but afurious Lady Cougars rally cut the final margin of victory to 4points. The Lady Cougars’ chances were harmed by 4 of 12 free throwshooting.