n They’ll defend their crown on Friday in the title game.
By Gene Phelps
JACKSON – Jason Thompson believed his H.W. Byers Lady Lions had to win a championship game on Saturday to reach the real championship game later this week.
Byers, behind the second-half play of Amanda Jones and Kourtney Coleman, knocked off South champ Scott Central, 70-59, in the semifinals of MHSAA Class 1A state tournament to earn the opportunity to defend their 2008 state title.
“The way I looked at it, this was a championship game, part one,” Thompson said. “Part two is next Friday. Scott Central’s a good team.”
Byers (33-4), the North runners-up to New Site, could get a rematch against the Lady Royals or play Kemper County in Friday’s title game.
Thompson doesn’t care who his team plays, but said he wouldn’t mind a New Site rematch.
“We do have a little payback,” he said, then smiled. “I think it would be an honor to have two North teams battle it out.”
Jones and Coleman stepped up and made the plays for Byers in the second half when Scott Central made its runs.
Jones, who scored 16 points, answered two fourth-quarter charges by Scott Central (28-5) with field goals. Her 3-pointer with 4 minutes, 57 seconds remaining came just moments after the Lady Rebels had cut the Lions’ lead to six points.
Coleman, who led Byers with 21 points, was the difference maker in the third period when Scott Central attempted to close the gap. She scored eight of her points in the frame.
“I think to win you have to answer a run with a run,” Thompson said. “We didn’t want to let them get the momentum and keep it.”
Despite committing 16 turnovers, Byers led by as many as 16 points in the first half.
Scott Central coach Chad Harrison said his team was intimidated by Byers’ reputation and it showed early.
“We just got off to a bad start,” he said. “They’ve got a great team. I knew they’d been here before and done it.”
However, Scott Central, which shot just 25 percent from the field in the first half, outscored the Lions 11-3 at the end of the opening half to cut their lead to 32-24.
A 3-pointer by Scott Central’s Kelcia Bufkin at the buzzer made it an eight-point game.
Scott Central’s Quentinette Odom led all scorers with 24 points. For Byers, Rachel Jones and Alexis Hardaway added 11 each.
The Lady Lions played nearly all the second half without senior post player Symone Gorman, who fouled out early in the third period.
n Box score, Page 2C