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Lady Bears suffer season-ending loss to Collins Lady Tigers, 56-53

West Lincoln’s Lady Bears’ season might have ended, but they have nothing to be ashamed of.

After all, they ended a nine-year drought by winning this year’s Region 7-2A championship.

With the home crowd keeping the gym roaring from opening tip off until the final buzzer, the Lady Bears played in a high-octane game against the Lady Tigers of Collins. With neither team able to separate from the other, the game came down to which team would turn over the ball the most. The Lady Bears’ 22 turnovers, compared to the Lady Tigers’ nine, led to their downfall.

“I want to thank the crowd for coming out. We’ve had some good support this week,” Lady Bears coach Brooks Smith said. “As far as the season goes, we were district champions and that’s an accomplishment, right there, because we haven’t done that in nine years.”

In the opening period, both teams were in a fight to see who could keep some kind of momentum. With the game tied at 12-all, the Lady Bears managed to get a little bit ahead, as junior Meagan Gerald gave her team the lead. West Lincoln led 19-12 after the first quarter.

Creating turnovers, the Lady Tigers started pulling closer to the Lady Bears. Although West Lincoln attempted to separate from Collins, errant passes allowed the Lady Tigers to hang around. With 1:35 remaining before halftime, the she-tigers managed to tie up the game at 28-all. The Lady Bears held onto the lead 32-28 going to halftime.

The third period saw the continued theme of ties and lead changes. Down 44-42 with time running out, Lady Bears’ junior Skylar Hall hit a jump shot to tie the game up at 44-all, which would be the score going into the final quarter.

Getting her own rebound, West Lincoln junior Megan Gerald gave the she-bears the lead to start the final chapter. Trailing 51-50, with more than two minutes left in the game, the Lady Tigers took the lead away and started trying to separate from the Lady Bears.

Shooting from the line, Lady Bears junior Katelyn Dickerson hit one of her shots to make it a two-point game, down 54-52. Giving her team a chance to attempt to overcome the Lady Tigers, sophomore Bailey Wilson connected with one free throw. Down by three points, the Lady Bears pressed the ball hard with time running out but were unable to connect on a three-pointer that would’ve tied it.

The Lady Tigers won by a final score of 56-53. With the game over, Smith addressed the crowd and wished Collins luck as they continue in the playoffs.

“I’m proud of what they have done this year. They played hard for me. We don’t have any seniors so I’m expecting bigger and better things next year,” said Smith.

The Lady Bears had four players shoot double digits. Hall led with 16 points and one rebound. Dickerson followed with 12 points, nine rebounds, one steal and one assist. Gerald had 11 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and one steal. Wilson also had 11 points, five rebounds and three steals. Freshman Brittany Sturkey finished the scoring with three points, six rebounds and one steal. Junior Elizabeth Stogner finished with one rebound and one steal.

The Lady Bears finish the season with a 19-8 overall record, and 7-1 in Region 7-2A.

Collins will take on Leland in round three of the 2A playoffs Friday.

Story by Dave Linton