By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
JACKSON – The Walnut Lady Wildcats have hung around long enough to win games all season long.
They needed a late bucket to win the Div. 2-2A title game, another to qualify for the MHSAA State Tournament.
That “no-quit” attitude, according to head coach Larry Tribble is the reason Walnut will hang around a little while longer at the Big House.
Thursday, the Lady Wildcats, the Class 2A North No. 2 seed stayed within striking distance of South No. 1 Taylorsville, then closed the game with a 22-9 fourth quarter to win 60-50 and advance to their first state title game since 1997.
“Sometimes we don’t impress people when we walk out on the floor,” said Tribble, now in his seventh season at Walnut, “We don’t overpower people, but we’re going to play hard for four quarters.”
The Lady Wildcats led 15-12 after one, but found themselves trailing by five points at the break and by three heading into the final quarter, but never wavered.
Tribble employed a press to begin the final frame that forced several Lady Tartar miscues. Trailing 45-44 on a bucket by Taylor Doyle, Walnut followed with a steal on the inbounds and a Becky Robinson layup for a 46-45 lead with 5:11 remaining.
They never trailed again.
“I looked at who they had played earlier and other teams had pressed them,” added Tribble. “I thought if we could press them, we could turn them over some.”
“They put pressure on us that we didn’t handle well,” said Taylorsville coach Angela Moore. Not that we haven’t had to handle pressure, but we didn’t adjust to the kind of pressure they were putting on us.”
Cocoa Bender and Tamesha Horne led Taylorsville (27-5), the No. 1 ranked Class 2A girls team with 16 points each.
Walnut (25-8) was led by senior Presley Pulse, who shot 9 for 15 for 19 points.
Fellow seniors Wynisha Adams and Taylor Doyle added 12 points each.
Walnut starts five seniors, a fact they credit to this year’s success. “We know each other. We’ve been playing together forever,” said Riley Quinn.
Those seniors will have one last game together, when they face the New Site Lady Royals for the Class 2A state title on Thursday, March 1 at 1 p.m.