Top 10: LC wins 1st basketball title — Lady Cougars bring home school’s first women’s basketball state championship
Lawrence County won its first girls’ basketball state championship in program history in 2017-2018 as the Lady Cougars defeated Byhalia in the state championship game, after an undefeated postseason run put them in the Coliseum in Jackson.
The Lady Cougars were dominant over the course of the season, as they went 26-3 in the regular season, including a perfect 10-0 mark within their district.
Lawrence County didn’t let a division opponent get within single digits during the regular season, and the Lady Cougars won three of their five postseason games by double digits.
Lawrence County got the playoff run started at home against South Pike, a game they dominated throughout and pulled out with a 56-34 victory. Moss Point came to Monticello for the second round, and the Lady Cougars dispatched them rather quickly as well, with a 51-34 victory.
The win over Moss Point sent Lawrence County to the Big House into the quarterfinals of the state championship. The Lady Cougars won their quarterfinal matchup with Indianola-Gentry 38-34 to march on to the semifinals.
A double-digit victory over McComb put the Lady Cougars into the state championship game against Byhalia. In a defensive slugfest, the Lady Cougars were able to pull out a 38-34 victory to win the program’s first state championship in history.
The Lady Cougars were tied at 23 going into the locker room for halftime, but a tough defensive effort in the second half limited Byhalia to only 11 points and let the Lady Cougars pull away with the four-point victory.
Why it mattered
Championships are obviously important, but the state championship for Lawrence County this season was a testament to what teamwork can do.
The Lady Cougars had terrific team chemistry throughout the season, and it carried over all the way into the playoffs and helped when things got tough against Indianola-Gentry and Byhalia.
What they said
“It was a really special group that I got to coach this year,” Lawrence County head coach Vicki Rutland said. “From the beginning I knew we had great team chemistry. The most impressive thing about this group was that they held themselves accountable. They demanded it from each other, and that really helps as a coach.”
“It’s so surreal,” said Lady Cougars senior Bailey Baylis. “When the season started, we had it in our head that we wanted to go to the championship game, not to get put out in the first round. And we did. We got the ring. I’m kind of speechless.”
“My family has been telling me, ‘You gotta do it, it’s your senior year,’” senior Camryn Davis said. “I did it for my team. It feels great. Our first state title.”
“It’s different now. When you’re young, you’re trying to build a resume, trying to start a career. It’s not about that anymore. It’s about family,” Rutland said. “I wanted it for these girls. They put in the work, they give up their free time, they sacrifice their bodies. To know this is something they’ll have the rest of their lives, that means everything to me. I have three sons, but these girls are all my daughters.”