By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Jason Thompson didn’t need to look at the statistics Friday night to see his H.W. Byers team didn’t play like a state championship contender against Bogue Chitto.
His team did, however, achieve the stat that means the most in late February – a W.
“It’s always better to play horrible and win than to play horrible and lose,” he said. “Hopefully, we got all of the bad things we can possibly do out of the way.”
Thompson’s Lady Lions overcame a poor-shooting night – 32 percent from the field – to defeat Class 1A state tournament newcomer Bogue Chitto 49-37 in the state semifinals at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Byers (28-8), the 2A state champions in 2008 and ‘09, moved into next Thursday’s 7 p.m. 1A championship game against the winner of today’s Coldwater-Ethel semifinal.
Bogue Chitto (30-3) cut the Lady Lions’ lead to five points, 39-34, in the opening moments of the fourth quarter on a basket by guard Aneshia Dillion. She led her team with 11 points.
“This was our first game in the Coliseum and we had the jitters,” Dillion said. “We couldn’t get over the hump.”
Byers answered with one of its many stars, guard Alexis Hardaway, who scored six of her game-high 17 points down the stretch. She added 11 rebounds.
Lions senior forward Kourtney Coleman, who scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds knows her team will give a lot better effort in the championship game.
“It was a rough start and not the best finish either,” she said. “Hopefully, the other teams will think that’s the best we can play. We will come back and play like the real Byers.”
Bogue Chitto, which shot just 29 percent from the field, was intimidated by Byers’ postseason reputation and size. Coleman’s 6-foot and Kyra Gulledge, who had 12 rebounds, is 6-2.
“They were two heads taller than us,” said Lady Bobcats guard Josie Porter, fighting back tears. “It’s tough when you aren’t used to playing teams that tall.”