By Donica Phifer
New Albany Gazette
SENATOBIA – It wasn’t the night that New Albany’s Lady Bulldogs wanted, as the No. 4 seed’s playoff hopes came to an end on a 50-40 loss to Byhalia in the Division 2-4A tournament.
The Lady Indians Deronique Martin and Arkeisha Brand combined for 14 of Byhalia’s 20 points in the first quarter.
Turnovers and forced shots saw New Albany struggle to a 28-13 deficit by halftime.
The Lady Bulldogs offense gained a little spark in the second half, led by Samantha Bridges’ 10 points in the third quarter that twice cut the Indians’ lead to 10.
Still, New Albany’s 14-point rally in the final quarter was not enough.
Kala Parker led the Bulldogs with 15 points, followed by Bridges with 13.
Martin and Shandricka Sessom each scored 14 for Byhalia.
New Albany misses advancing in the postseason for the first time since 2008, a run that includes a 2011 Class 4A girls state championship title.
(B) New Albany 57, Senatobia 48: A 20-point lead slowly evaporated for the Bulldogs, culminating in a fourth-quarter shootout.
“At this point, a win is a win. It doesn’t matter how ugly or how pretty, how easy or how difficult. It’s all about survive and advance, and that’s what we did tonight,” Bulldogs coach Brad Gray said.
His team led 30-18 at halftime.
Missed free throws made the difference, as New Albany shot 8 of 22 during the course of the game while the Warriors hit 7 of 15.
“The game was really, really physical. The officials let them play and luckily our guys did enough to hang on,” Gray said.
The Bulldogs advance to today’s 5:30 p.m. game with the No. 2 tournament seed, Rosa Fort.