Division Champions!

Myrtle 58

Coldwater 55 (girls)

The Lady Hawks picked up the division 3-1A title Friday night, but not without a fight from the Lady Cougars, as Myrtle held on for the 58-55 win.

Myrtle jumped to a 20-6 lead in the first quarter, as Amber Williamson and Beth Goolsby combined for four three-pointers. Coldwater would go on an 11-3 run to close the first frame to pull within eight.

“I thought we came out on fire and had a chance to put the game away early on,” Myrtle head coach Chris Greer said. “We had some turnovers and didn’t play as tough after we took the lead.”

The Lady Cougars had two runs in the second to inch their way back into the game, but two more three’s by Goolsby in the frame would help to pace the Lady Hawks and keep them in the lead, 34-30, at the half.

Williamson opened the second half with a three for Myrtle, but the Lady Cougars toughened up on defense after that, forcing several turnovers and back court violations. Jerontay Clemons and Latina Futrell kept Coldwater in the game, as a basket by Clemons made it 47-42 going into the final frame.

After Aspriona Gilbert picked up her fourth foul at the beginning of the fourth, Futrell’s free throws cut Myrtle’s lead to 48-46, and moments later a steal and basket by Futrell would tie the game.

Myrtle would extend their lead back to four, 56-52, but Clemons would cut the lead to one with 33.8 seconds in the game.

Clemons had an opportunity to tie the game after being fouled by Halle Knowles, but was unable to connect on her free throw. Diana Suarez capped the win with her free throws, giving Myrtle the win over the top-seeded Lady Cougars.

Gilbert and Goolsby led the Lady Hawks with 17 each, while Williamson finished with 13.

Clemons led all scorers on the night with 28, while Futrell added 19.

Myrtle is now focusing on making it far into the playoffs, but Greer knows the road will be tough.

“When you get into the playoffs, you just work more on situations instead of practicing real hard,” Greer explained. “The main focus is cutting down on mental mistakes. Tonight, we played a great game, if we had just cut down on our mental mistakes, we would have probably beaten a good team by even more points.

Greer knows the importance of this division title, and remembers a promise he made to this year’s seniors when he first started coaching them.

“I coached them in the eighth grade, and we had a good team. We talked about how in five years, we were going to try to do big things, and we’re doing it,” Greer said. “Only three of them have hung around, and we’ve had an injury in Kiana Cox, and we’re going to do our best to get her back, but I tell you, when you have seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth graders and juniors and seniors all stepping up together, we’re a team. We’re the Myrtle Lady Hawks, and I’m proud to coach them.”

Myrtle 83

Wheeler 51 (Monday)

The Lady Hawks will host this weekend’s 1A North Half Tournamment after defeating Wheeler 83-51 Monday night.

Beth Goolsby led the way with 26 points, followed by Aspriona Gilbert with 15 and Kesho Montgomery with 12.

Myrtle will be back in action on Thursday.

New Albany 64

Center Hill 40 (girls)

The road to redemption for the Lady Bulldogs ended Friday night, as they defeated Center Hill 64-40 to capture the Division 1-4A title at Itawamba Community College.

Two of the three loses for New Albany came at the hands of division foes, and after defeating Itawamba AHS Wednesday night, Center Hill was the remaining team the Lady ‘Dawgs looked to defeat.

“The Itawamba game mattered the most to the girls,” NAHS head coach John Stroud said. “They had beaten us, then Center Hill got us in the final game of the regular season at home, but the Itawamba game was huge because we knew if we lost, we would be on the road for the first round of the playoffs, so after beating them, we focused on Center Hill, and it was great to bounce back and defeat them.”

After taking the 24-19 lead at the half, New Albany came out on fire in the second, outscoring Center Hill 23-10 in the third frame to take the comfortable lead and move on for the win.

“We wanted this win badly,” Stroud said. “We played very well in the second half and we looked like the team we’ve had all season. We were clicking in all areas, and we’re proud that we’re now division champs, and we hope this carries over into the playoffs.”

The story for the Lady Bulldogs all season has been their success with such a young team. Stroud has watched over the course of the season just how much his team has grown.

“We’re young, but we’re talented,” Stroud explained. “We play very well together on any given night. You can tell now that the sophomores are looking more experienced and older, and our eighth grader is looking like a high school player. We have a lot to look forward to in the future, but right now we’re staying focused on the present and hope to continue the success.”

Taking care of the ball and causing less turnovers is Stroud’s goal for his young squad going into the playoffs.

“We know that at this point it’s a lose one and go home, and that’s what I’ve been telling the girls. We need to reduce turnovers and take care of the ball. That’s our big issue and that’s what we’re looking to improve on.”

New Albany 50 Callaway 48 (Monday)

The Lady ‘Dawgs struggled throughout the game, but Kebrina Lucas’ two free throws with four seconds remaining gave New Albany the 50-48 win Monday night to advance the Lady Bulldogs into the next round of the playoffs.

Head Coach John Stroud wanted his team to work on eliminating turnovers in the playoffs, but his squad struggled on the night, as they had nine alone in the first quarter.

Falling behind 40-34 heading into the fourth, Lucas’ basket tied the game at 44, and Jazmine Spears gave the Lady ‘Dawgs the lead with 2:12 remaining in the game.

After Callaway hit a basket to tie the game at 48, Lucas was fouled with seconds remaining, and her shots advance New Albany to play Oxford Thursday afternoon.

Spears led New Albany with 19, followed by Kebrina Lucas with 14 and Tierra Lucas with 10.

New Albany’s match-up versus Oxford will be at 4 p.m. Thursday.