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Taylorsville gets final bucket to bounce Loyd Star in MHSAA 2A opening round

A late Taylorsville jumper would be the difference Monday night in the MHSAA 2A opening round playoff game between the Lady Tartars and the homestanding Loyd Star Lady Hornets.

The shot by senior Tamara Williams gave THS a one-point lead and would be the winning basket in a 47-46 win over the Lady Hornets.

It was the only basket of the night by Williams.

Loyd Star (19-9) had opportunities to take back the lead as coach Gene “Moochie” Britt called a timeout for his team with 19 seconds remaining after the go-ahead score by THS.

However, the initial shot and then three following offensive put-back attempts would be no good as the clock ran out on the Loyd Star season.

“We kept trying to put it back in, but it wouldn’t fall, and they didn’t call a foul,” said Britt. “We had a couple shots in the game that rattled in-and-out on us. Shots that we usually make that just didn’t stay down.”

Taylorsville (20-8) jumped up 15-10 on the Lady Hornets after the first quarter, but Britt and his team responded with a 14-5 run in the second quarter that gave them a 24-20 lead at halftime.

The scouting report on Taylorsville was that the inside presence of Kolten Blakeney and Whitney Keyes would be the main focus for Loyd Star to contain.

Blakeney led THS with 17 points, nine of which came in the crucial fourth quarter. Keys chipped in 15 points for Taylorsville coach Angela Moore.

The Lady Hornets battled through foul trouble most of the night. Senior forward Taylor Smith fouled out midway through the fourth quarter. Britt was also forced to substitute his main ball handler — sophomore point guard Aubrey Britt — when Britt picked up her fourth foul in the fourth quarter.

Once Aubrey Britt went to the bench Taylorsville began to pick up their defensive pressure with a press.

Despite being the third seed from Region 5-2A, the Lady Tartars had played both of the top teams in their region — Bay Springs and Puckett — to close losses during the regular season.

Aubrey Britt led LS with 20 points. Senior Ta’Maria Townsend was the only other Lady Hornet in double figures with 11 points. Calia Beard scored eight points for Loyd Star while senior Carly Beth Wallace chipped in five points. Smith and Alyssa Leggett rounded out the LS scoring with four points each.

Wallace chipped in seven assists and Beard pulled down 14 rebounds.

“The girls played hard and they played well for most of the night,” said Britt. “Taylorsville was a tough team and they hurt us inside with some offensive rebounds and put-backs.

Britt came out of a one-year retirement when former head coach Christi Terrell stepped down prior to the season. The hall-of-famer who’s had a storied career leading first Brookhaven Academy and then Loyd Star is non-committal about any future plans.

Now is a time to focus on vacations with his wife, state-keeper and assistant coach Margaret.

“I’m not sure if they even want me back,” said Britt with a laugh. “I’ve enjoyed coaching this group of girls though. They always had great attitudes and gave good effort all season long.”

Wallace, Smith and Townsend are all seniors as is forward Kelsie Foster who was averaging six points and four rebounds per game before suffering a late-season injury.

Aubrey Britt will be a junior next season after averaging 15.2 points per game this season as a sophomore.

The Lady Hornets were runners-up in Region 7-2A during the regular season and division tournament. Of their nine losses four were to county rivals West Lincoln.

Taylorsville moves on to play either Newton or Collins in the second round.