HATLEY GIRLS VICTIM OF (STEPHANIE) MURPHY’S LAW
By Mike Talbert
HATLEY Murphy’s Law afflicted the upset hopes of the Hatley Lady Tigers Saturday.
Hatley overcame a nine-point deficit to tie the undefeated West Tallahatchie Lady Choctaws four times in the fourth quarter of the girls North Mississippi Class 2A championship game.
However, Stephanie Murphy hit three free throws in the final 11 seconds for the winning margin to stop Hatley 65-62.
Murphy, with 35 points and eight rebounds, outdueled Hatley’s Heather Faulkner, who hid the injured ankle that was supposed to limit her playing time as she scored 28 points.
In the consolation game, the Nettleton Lady Tigers, who were within three minutes of upsetting West Tallahatchie (32-0) Friday, saw a 14-point lead slip through their fingers as they were elimnated by Drew’s Lady Eagles 52-48.
The Lady Choctaws, ranked No. 1 in the state by the Associated Press, advance to the Mississippi 2A girls tournament in Jackson as the top North seed. Hatley (29-4) is the No. 2 seed and Drew is the third-seeded team.
“Their team played a really solid game, but we believed in what we were doing and stuck to it. It was a good game right down to the wire,” West Tallahatchie coach Ed Culley said.
West Tallahatchie opened a 26-17 lead on Hatley before Jamie Stevenson, who scored 10 points, had two buckets and Falkner hit a layup to close it to 26-23 at halftime.
Hatley had a brief lead in the third period when Shelly Campbell, who had 16 points, completed a three-point play to go up 39-38. Johnnie Sykes added 12 points for the Lady Choctaws.
Drew 52, Nettleton 48: “We never played the kind of defense we are capable of,” Nettleton coach Joe Ferguson said. “We just didn’t play a good game.”
Drew seemed out of the contest when Nettleton (18-9) took a 33-19 edge early in the second quarter. But the Lady Eagles started pulling back, helped by a pair of 3-pointers by Letesha King, who scored 21 points for Drew (21-9).
King hit a 30-foot shot at the close of the third quarter to pull the Lady Eagles within one, 37-36.
“It wasn’t that we lacked for intensity, but maybe we thought we had it won,” Ferguson said.
Still it took Drew more than four minutes to make the first of five lead changes.
Denessa Potts hit a free throw to tie when Nettleton’s leading scorer, Portia Jones, fouled out with 21 points and 11 rebounds with 3:31 left. Then Potts gave Drew the lead for good with a layup off a Nettleton turnover.
Teneeshia Jones added 12 points for Nettleton, which returns all its starters except Cheryl Jones.
“This was very disappointing. I thought we were going to go all the way,” Ferguson said.