LCHS girls prevail in OT

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MONTICELLO – The Lawrence County Lady Cougars pulled out adramatic 65-64 overtime victory against the Bay St. Louis LadyTigers Monday night in first-round action in the South Mississippi4A basketball playoffs. Tyra Griffin hit 1 of 2 free throws with 8tenths of a second left in overtime, to provide the winningpoint.

Lawrence County had trailed most of the night. It took a free throwby junior Katie Parish, with 6 seconds left in regulation, to getthe Lady Cougars into the overtime period.

With the win, Lawrence County improves to 22-8 on the season. BayHigh, under long-time mentor Debbie Triplett, finished the seasonat 25-5.

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“It was quite a finish,” said sixth-year Lady Cougar coach VickiRutland, who defeated Triplett and Bay High in 2004, in the 4Astate championship game while at Northeast Jones. “I’m proud forour girls. This is a game that could have easily gone the otherway, but my girls gutted it out in the end.

“I have all the respect in the world for Coach Triplett and herteam,” Rutland continued. “I’ve faced her so many times, includingthe state title game. Beating them is always a tall order, and itwas tonight.”

Lawrence County fell behind by as many as 12 points in the firsthalf, as Bay’s Shekinah Lewis and Jeremi Raboteau shot the lightsout before intermission. Both ended up with 15 points in the game,with 23 of their combined 30 points coming in the first half.

“I thought we were a step slow on defense in the first half,”Rutland said. “They were getting too many open three-pointersagainst a man-to-man defense. We learned quickly that if they wereleft unguarded, they’d shoot the lights out. By the time we startedguarding them, it was almost too late.”

Lawrence County trailed 29-21 at halftime, but exploded in thethird quarter. Junior standout Tiaria Griffin and senior centerAlli Harris scored 18 of the Lady Cougars’ 21 third-quarter pointsas LCHS raced back to a 42-39 lead. For the night, Griffin scored36 and Harris had 12.

Bay battled back and appeared to have victory within its grasp inthe fourth quarter, leading by as many as 6 points with less than 3minutes left. LCHS battled back and tied the game.

Late in the overtime period, Bay took a 2-point lead on TerricaWilliams’ basket, only to see Tiaria Griffin drive the length ofthe floor for the tying basket with about 8 seconds left. When Baytried to inbounds the ball, Tyra Griffin stole it and attempted todrive toward the basket, but was fouled with less than 1 secondleft on the overtime clock. After missing her first free throw-both teams were in the 2-shot, double-bonus – Griffin calmly sankthe second

In advancing, Lawrence County earned the right to host thisweekend’s South State 4A girls’ tournament. The tournament willconsist of 8 teams, and will run Thursday through Saturday. The twofinalists will advance to the state tournament in the MississippiColiseum.

“We’re excited to be hosting South State,” Rutland said. “This is abig event for our girls, and for our school. From a basketballstandpoint, we’ve really got our work cut out for us, but we’relooking forward to it.”