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Southwest Lady Bears fall to East Central

Despite freshman Alissa Adam’s season-high 32 points, free throws proved to be the difference Thursday night as they Lady Bears closed out the regular season with a 79-73 loss to MACJC South Division champion East Central in Decatur.

Both teams hit 28 field goals (eight three pointers for the Lady Bears, nine for the Lady Warriors). But, the home team hit 15 of 24 free throws while the Lady Bears were 8-11 from the line.

The Lady Bears ended the regular season at 17-6 overall and 9-5 in the South and will go into next week’s MACJC state tournament as the South’s number four seed. East Central moved to 21-2 and 13-1 and will enter the tournament as the South’s top seeded team.

Adam got the ball rolling with a short jumper that put the Lady Bears on top 2-0 early in the contest. But, East Central quickly got on the board and jumped out to a 14-6 advantage with 4:44 left in the opening quarter. The home team then led 16-10 going into the second quarter.

Opening the second quarter on a 14-4 run, the Lady Bears took a 24-20 lead on a Teshia Jones three pointer with 3:59 on the clock. After the Lady Warriors tied it at 24-24, free throws from Gabriella Cortez had the Lady Bears in the lead, 26-24, with 2:17 before the half. The Lady Warriors then scored the final seven points of the quarter and held a 31-26 lead as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

The Lady Warriors came out on fire in the third quarter, opening on a 16-5 run, to take a 47-31 lead with 6:44 on the clock. A Shalisa Hawthorne jumper narrowed the Lady Bears’ deficit to 47-35 with 5:55 showing.

With the Lady Warriors on top 53-35, the Lady Bears closed out the third quarter on a 12-4 run. Hawthorne’s three pointer with 0:28 on the clock pulled the Lady Bears to within 10, 57-47, with one quarter remaining.

Scoring 12 of the first 18 points of the final quarter, including back-to-back jumpers from Adam and Chelsea James, the Lady Bears pulled to within 63-59 with 6:17 left in the game. But, the Lady Warriors answered with six straight points to go back up by 10, 69-59, with 5:10 to play.

Not willing to go quietly into the night, the Lady Bears went on a 14-5 run and narrowed the score to 74-73 on Adam’s three pointer with 0:20 on the clock. But, the Lady Warriors would not be denied as they scored the final five points of the game to claim the six-point victory.

“We knew it was going to be tough (tonight),” said Lady Bears’ head coach Brent Harris, “because they (East Central) are the number one seed in the South. They’re a good team. They play hard and extremely fast.”

“I was very proud of our comeback,” Harris continued. “I thought we showed great toughness. I thought we blocked out, at times, better than we have all year. We can build on that. We’ve (now) got to get ready for post-season play and a very tough Itawamba team.”

The Lady Bears will face Itawamba, the North’s number one team and the tournament host, in the first round of the tournament. Complete brackets and game times will be announced later today.

Adam hit 12 of 21 field goals, including four of six from three-point range and four of five free throws, in leading all scorers. She also added eight assists. Cortez and Hawthorne also scored in double figures with 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Samantha Duncan topped the Lady Warriors with 27 points.