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Lady warriors nip Franklin County

MEADVILLE – The anticipation for Monday night’s Class 3A SouthState Girls final was never clearer than an hour before thecontest. Franklin County’s Bulldog Arena was already bursting withenergy. A capacity crowd was already in place 50 minutes beforetipoff and the spectators got their money’s worth.

In a back and forth clash of two 3A titans, Choctaw Central won athriller 62-59 over the Lady Bulldogs of Franklin County. Bothteams will advance to the State Tournament.

FCHS will play North No. 1 seed Belmont Saturday at 1 p.m. in theMississippi Coliseum at Jackson. Choctaw Central plays Ripley at6:30 Saturday night.

“They (Choctaw Central) are a physical team,” said FC girls coachCharles Moore. “They take your out of your comfort zone and if youplay at their pace it turns into a frantic game.”

The Lady Warriors (24-7) got two big baskets from senior CobyWallace down the stretch, nailing a driving layup with 30 secondsremaining and netting two critical free throws with 6.9 seconds togo.

Franklin County (23-4) could not answer, as the Lady Warriorspressure defense forced a last-second turnover to end the game withthe Choctaw Central bench erupting in celebration.

“We might be little but we play big when it matters,” said ChoctawCentral head coach Jennie Vance. “This team is all heart andguts.”

Four members of the Lady Warriors team scored in double figures.Delanda Chickaway netted 15 points and Wallace added 12 points.Chenice Ben followed with 11 points and Mildred Jimmie had 10points.

Chickaway added seven rebounds and made two steals. The LadyWarriors’ defense put pressure on the Franklin County girls squadthe entire night.

“I have to give my point guard Leondra Shaw credit. She did a greatjob handling the ball with all that pressure they put on us,” addedMoore. “We rebounded well but not as well as we should havetonight.”

In a fierce first half, the teams battled to a 29-29 deadlock atintermission and followed that with a 46-all tie heading into thefourth quarter. FCHS led 42-33 at one point in the third, but theLady Warriors battled back with clutch baskets and rebounds.

“The pace they play at is something you can’t simulate inpractice,” added Moore. “We’re motivated to see them again.”

Vintrice Briggs, the Lady Bulldogs’ 5-8 junior forward, scored agame-high 29 points and added 11 rebounds. Senior standout Cee CeeMiller finished with 14 points.

The Franklin County girls will be making their third StateTournament appearance, and second under Moore. The Lady Dawgs wereState runners-up in 2008.

“I don’t know much about the teams up North, but I know we played avery good Choctaw Central team tonight,” said Moore. “We’ve got toget ready for Saturday now.”