By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
MYRTLE – For the first time in three meetings this season, Myrtle and H.W. Byers took the court on the Lady Hawks’ home floor.
Even in a different venue and with higher stakes on the line, the results were no different.
H.W. Byers defeated Myrtle for the third time this year, 50-43, to advance and face Coldwater for the Class 1A North championship tonight.
The Lady Lions, the defending 1A state champion and current No. 1 team in the state in their classification, clinched their sixth straight trip to Jackson. No. 4 Myrtle was eliminated and finishes their season 28-7.
“The rumor is they’re going to go to Tupelo from here for a couple years,” Byers coach Jason Thompson said, referring to possible changes in the 1A state tournament. “We want to play in Jackson one more time and if it’s our last time for a couple years we want to get that last game on Jackson’s floor.”
At one point though, it looked like Myrtle would be the school heading to Mississippi Coliseum next week.
After starting the game 1 for 11 from 3-point range, Meshay Cox and Kiana Judon knocked down consecutive shots from beyond the arc in a key stretch for the Lady Hawks.
Those threes were the highlight of an excellent third quarter for Myrtle in which they led 37-32 with 2:11 to play in the period.
Thompson’s team kept their composure, however, and retook the lead by the end of the third at 39-38.
Byers (26-4) kept their momentum going in the fourth, going on an 11-0 run in which Myrtle was scoreless for seven minutes to seal the win.
“We gave Byers all they wanted, but they were a little better,” Myrtle coach Chris Greer said. “Everybody can’t win, but you know what? I can look myself in the mirror and know I gave it all I got and our team gave it all they got tonight.”
Aspriona Gilbert scored 17 points and Halle Knowles added 8 in their final game in Myrtle uniforms. Richenda Crutcher led Byers with 10.