West Lincoln’s 6th-Man pushes Lady Bears to 2A Semifinal

Published 9:30 pm Monday, February 28, 2022

Junior guard Ramsey Hall motioned to the crowd of West Lincoln fans that filled the court after the team’s 52-47 win over Velma Jackson Friday in the MHSAA 2A State Tournament.

“They really get us going,” said Hall of the fans that had packed Jack Case Gymnasium on the home side of the stands. “They’re truly our 6th-Man.”

Those Flea Hop faithful will follow their team to Jackson on Tuesday as West Lincoln (20-8) takes on Belmont (26-5) in a 9 a.m. tipoff of the 2A semifinals. New Site (27-9) and Lake (22-3) play in the second semifinal that follows West Lincolns’ game.

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In the first half Friday, there was a spell where the West Lincoln fans sat waiting for something to cheer about.

The game had been tied at 16-16 after the first quarter as both teams played mostly error free basketball in the opening eight minutes.

The Velma Jackson defense began to rattle the Lady Bear’s cage in the second quarter as WL had a run of six straight turnovers.

VJHS led 25-17 before West Lincoln got a Mary Claire Johnson 3-pointer with 2:42 remaining until halftime. Johnson’s shot was the first made field goal of the second quarter for her team.

The visitors from Camden led 27-21 at halftime.

Junior guard Cayla Myers had scored 29 points for Velma Jackson in the second round, a 72-69 overtime win over North Forrest.

The 5-foot-10 Myers has the greenest of green lights when it comes to her shot selection. She hit a couple of acrobatic, fallaway shots in the second quarter as her nine first half points were a big part of Velma Jackson staking its lead.

Just like they had a week earlier in a win against Kemper County, West Lincoln came out in the second half with a confidence in its game.

A Madilyn Case 3-pointer with 2:43 left in the third quarter cut the Lady Falcon’s led to 30-28.

When junior point guard Kara Beth Addison made a layup while being fouled a minute later, her made free throw tied the game at 32-32, the home fans were roaring with approval on every made basket.

The fourth quarter was all West Lincoln.

Another layup by Addison made the lead 46-39 with four minutes remaining and West Lincoln coach Alissa Adams put her team in position to nurse that advantage until the final horn.

Myers and her backcourt mate Deborah Pierce had 16 points each for Velma Jackson (19-10).

Addison scored a game high 20 points for West Lincoln as she finished 8-of-9 from the free throw line. Johnson again showed she’s deadly from long range, making four 3-pointers and finishing with 12 points.

Junior Ta’Kyla “Moosy” Brothern scored 10 points, nine of those coming in the first quarter.

“My teammates told me to go out and play my game and with my teammates believing in me, I had to go out and believe in myself.”

Case added eight points and Hall rounded out the WL scoring with two points.

Adams had her team fully prepared for what Velma Jackson threw at them. They were also prepared to run out the clock late with a lead and they’ll be ready Tuesday to play basketball during breakfast hours.

“We’ve had one practice a week at 6 a.m. all year and I know they’ve thought I was mean for doing that to them, but they know what it’s like to get up early and get to work,” said Adams.

In 2018, West Lincoln made it to the 2A finals where they lost a close game to Newton High after beating a one-loss team from Calhoun City in the semis.

Ramsey Hall’s older sister Skylar was a senior leader on that team.

Friday, as she talked about watching her sister play in Jackson at The Big House aka the Mississippi Coliseum and to now have that opportunity herself — the gritty little 5-foot defensive stopper for the Lady Bears fought back tears.

“It’s a dream, I always looked up to my sister,” said Hall. “I always wanted to play in the Big House and now I get to go with my best friends. It’s overwhelming and so exciting.”