By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
MOUNT PLEASANT – H.W. Byers coach Jason Thompson knew his bench was deeper than Myrtle’s, especially with the loss of Jenna Jordan to a season-ending knee injury.
So Thompson gave the Lady Hawks one of two options during their Division 2-1A Tournament semifinal game.
“They can either keep up, or they can either stop and let us keep going and use what we got to keep on scoring points,” said Thompson.
After playing neck-and-neck for 12 minutes, Myrtle seemed to run out of gas and Thompson’s second option kicked into gear in the Lady Lions’ 58-35 victory.
H.W. Byers, the state’s top-ranked Class 1A school, will host No. 2 Coldwater tonight at 7 p.m. for the 2-1A championship.
The Lady Hawks came ready to play, building a 7-2 lead in the first four minutes on a three-pointer by Halle Knowles and two baskets by Aspriona Gilbert.
That would be Myrtle’s only lead of the game, as the Lady Lions’ balanced scoring attack took over for the duration.
ShaDae Nolan and Justice Martin were the only double-digit scorers for Byers with 10 apiece, but four other Lady Hawks had at least seven points.
“I tell my kids all the time be a contributor,” Thompson said. “Having kids who are capable of scoring 8-to-12 points and balancing it out causes them to have to guard everybody because there’s nobody that’s a weak link.”
Byers (23-4) took control in a second half run where they did not allow Myrtle to score for over eight minutes.
In that time that began with 6:19 to play in the third quarter, the Lady Lions went on a 17-0 run that took their four-point lead and upped it to 49-28 well into the fourth.
Gilbert scored 14 points, all in the first half, and Knowles added 11 for Myrtle (26-5).
(B) H.W. Byers 70, Ingomar 64: Trailing by 11 points midway through the third, Jarvis Jones led the Lions (14-9) comeback by scoring 29 points.
Jahkel Scott’s only basket of the game, a three-pointer, gave Byers the lead for good at 61-58 with 5:19 to play. Devonte Williamson led Ingomar (16-13) with 19 points.
(B) Coldwater 65, Myrtle 63: With two defenders on him, Robert Montgomery’s shot was blocked with no foul called as time expired. Montgomery scored 32 points for Myrtle.
(G) Coldwater 55, Ashland 48: Jerontay Clemons (37) and Charmaine Stackhouse (13) scored 50 of Coldwater’s 55 points.