By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Ashland’s stunning postseason run ended, but not without a fight, Friday afternoon at the Big House.
The Lady Blue Devils, who entered the playoffs with six victories, actually came within a missed shot or two in the closing seconds before losing 52-47 to Hinds AHS in the semifinals of the MHSAA Class 1A state tournament.
“A lot of people didn’t think we’d make it this far,” Ashland coach Ayesha Brooks said in a postgame press conference at the Mississippi Colisuem. “My players knew what they wanted. They wanted to come here and they won the games that counted.”
Hinds AHS (28-6) will play defending state champion H.W. Byers (27-5) at 1 p.m. Thursday for the 1A gold ball.
Ashland (11-17) led 42-41 early in the fourth quarter, but watched Hinds’ Erica Harris sink back-to-back 3-pointers and a layup to give her team a 49-42 advantage.
Harris finished with a game-high 25 points.
“I kept shooting, even though my coach told me to quit shooting,” Harris said, then smiled. “It was time for me to play.”
Hinds AHS saw the Lady Blue Devils close the gap to 49-45 on a steal and layup by Alontra Tucker with 33 seconds remaining.
However, on Ashland’s next possession it missed on five shot attempts under the goal.
“Some things just didn’t fall,” Ashland’s Brooks said. “We had some good looks on the rebounds.”
Tucker, who averaged 25 points per game during the season, was held to seven points by Hinds’ box-and-one defensive scheme. She was 2-of-10 from the field.
“They were holding me and I got frustrated,” said Tucker, who played with an injured ankle.
Javita Godwin scored 16 points and Damertis Anderson 11 to lead Ashland. Octavia Barnes added 15 to Hinds’ effort.
H.W. Byers 72, Bogue Chitto 35: The Lady Lions built a 45-16 halftime lead in their morning victory to reach the finals for a sixth straight season.
ShaDai Nolen scored 12 and Richenda Crutcher added 11 for Byers.