By Mike Talbert
JACKSON The Bogue Chitto girls were on familiar boards. In the end it made the difference against the West Union Lady Eagles Wednesday in the girls Class 1A State Tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum.
The Lady Bobacts, the defending Class 1A champions, came from behind with the play of center Tonya Barnes. Then swing player Felicia Ferguson scored nine of her 15 points in overtime to knock West Union out of the tournament 68-65.
“Our problem all year has been that we haven’t learned how to hold a lead at the end against good teams,” West Union coach Ken Basil said. “That’s experience. It will help us next year. But we are going to have to really play hard next year to get back.”
The West Union chances for that may be good. Jill Goolsby, who scored 25 points and had 12 rebounds, is just a sophomore. So is Tana Kirk, who had 15 points, and starting guard Jennifer Carter. Julie Downs, with 10 points, including three 3-pointers, is a junior. Not a single senior played in the game for the Lady Eagles (28-5).
At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Bogue Chitto will play for its third state title in four years, in a rematch of last year’s championship game against Durant (27-1), which is averaging a 30-point winning margin in the past four games.
West Union controlled the lead most of the second half, leading 47-40 after Downs hit a 3-pointer to open the final period.
However, Bogue Chitto started pressing and forced seven fourth quarter turnovers, as it came back to tie the game 57-57 with 6 seconds left on a layup by Barnes, who led the Lady Bobcats with 20 points and 15 rebounds.
“Our press and our aggressiveness on the offensive boards got us back in it,” Bogue Chitto coach Mickey Myers said.
Though West Union led most of the overtime, Ferguson used three turnovers in the last 1:07 to score two buckets and a free throw to tie and then win the game.
“She is a real good player,” Goolsby said. “She showed her experience.”
“We had hoped to wear them down with our pressure, and they did get tired. I thought we had a chance in overtime even though (forward Cristal Young) had fouled out,” Basil said. “But they had been here before and knew what to do.”
Neither team shot the ball well in the first half as the lead changed hannds 11 times. Bogue Chitto opened its biggest lead of the half at 23-18 on a Melanie Fairchild layup.
The Lady Eagles went into their 2-minute offense and outscored the Lady Bobcats 11-2. The Lady Eagles went full court in 3.2 seconds after Melanie Churchill fed a rebound down court to Downs, who hit a 3-pointer outside the NBA arc to give West Union a 29-25 halftime edge.
“It just wasn’t our time,” Goolsby said. “We’re coming back next year.”