Lady Choctaws fall in Senior Night heartbreaker in 2OT
In the Lady Choctaws’ final regular season home game, four quarters and one extra frame were not enough to decide things as the two teams played 40 minutes before St. Benedict escaped with a 76-73 double-overtime win over Dyer County after a late rally by the orange and white girls on Senior Night.
“Most nights when you force 20 turnovers and you only have 12 yourself, you like to feel like you’re going to win the ballgame,” Dyer County head coach Derek McCord said. “We just missed some shots that we normally make.
“But, give our girls credit – I thought they played extremely hard. It was an exciting game and St. Benedict is a very good basketball game.”
The Lady Choctaws were able to turn a one-point halftime lead into a five-point advantage as four points from Amaria Pugh along with a pair of Alexis Akin free throws put Dyer County up 28-23 with 5:51 left in the third quarter. But, the Lady Eagles rallied, getting a three-pointer from Kristina Ferris to spark a 9-0 run that she also capped with a pair of buckets to give St. Benedict a 32-28 lead with 2:46 left in the frame. A three-point play from Pugh cut the lead to one and, after a Lily Gleneck layup, Dyer County got a Jamy’a Glenn three-pointer to tie the game at 34-34 with 90 seconds left in the quarter. The Lady Choctaws took the lead after a Torri Daniels free throw and a Pugh layup but the Lady Eagles answered with buckets from Myah Leflore and Lauren Neuhoff to counter a Pugh free throw and tie the game at 38-38 heading into the fourth.
After a back-and-forth early fourth frame, the Lady Eagles built their lead to five points with 3:48 left to play. But, the Lady Choctaws chipped away at the St. Benedict advantage, cutting it to one point with 69 seconds left in regulation after a Pugh bucket. Leflore extended the Lady Eagle lead to three seconds later, but Dyer County got a free throw from Pugh and a late driving layup from Glenn to tie the game at 53-53 and send the game into overtime.
Neither team was able to get much separation early in the extra frame as both teams took the lead twice early on. But, a free throw and a three-pointer from Akin put Dyer County on top 63-60 with 1:26 left in the extra period. This time it was the Lady Eagles’ turn to fight their way back, getting a pair of free throws from Leflore before a late free throw put Dyer County up by two late in the overtime frame. But, it was Leflore again who prolonged the game, getting a late jumper to tie the game at 65-65 and force a second overtime frame.
After a pair of Akins free throws gave the Lady Choctaws the lead six seconds into the second overtime frame, the Lady Eagles took command of the game, getting a 9-2 run lasting until 35 seconds left in the second overtime period. But, Pugh hit four straight free throws to counter a Lady Eagle point from the line to cut the deficit to two. After a Ferris free throw extended the Lady Eagle lead to three points, the Lady Choctaws had a pair of chances to tie the game. Pugh attempted a jumper but was heavily guarded then, after a pair of missed St. Benedict free throws, a last-second three-point attempt from Glenn sailed just long to allow the Lady Eagles to escape with the win.
“The Memphis-bound Myah Leflore is a very good basketball player,” McCord said. “And, in the overtime frames, we just couldn’t keep the ball out of her hands like we wanted to.”
Pugh recorded a double-double, scoring 35 points and grabbing a dozen rebounds. Akins added 15 points in the loss for the Lady Choctaws.
“Amaria Pugh – heck of a game,” McCord said. “She just continues to get better day in and day out.
“Our girls’ attitude is just so good. I am so proud of how hard they work at the things they do.”
The loss comes in the final regular season home game for the Lady Choctaws as the outgoing seniors were a part of a four-year span which saw the program win 100 games.
“We’re going to miss not only some really good basketball players, but some really good quality, high-character girls that have been really good for our program,” McCord said. “Very proud of them and their accomplishments.”
Dyer County opens its tournament journey on Thursday night when the Lady Choctaws face Brighton in the opening round of the District 13AAA Tournament at Munford High School at 7:30 p.m.
“I think this team – if we continue to work and get better – we’re going to make some noise in the postseason,” McCord said. “I really do. I think the toughness and the strength of our schedule has prepared us to make a run here in the postseason.”
The Lady Choctaws open the postseason against a team which they lost a heartbreaker to on Jan. 27, a 74-72 setback at Brighton.
“Had a double-digit lead and missed from free throws and some easy shots,” McCord said. “So, our girls should be able to get motivated pretty easily for this one.”
The Lady Choctaws end the regular season with a record of 18-8.
Dyer County boys 67, St. Benedict 59
The Choctaws made sure the final game of the regular season for outgoing seniors Caleb Ball and D.J. Edwards was going to end on a positive note as the Dyer County boys opened the final eight minutes with a big run to propel the Choctaws to an eight-point win.
“St. Benedict is a very good basketball team and they’ve beat teams like MUS and Brighton,” McCord said. “I think we’ve shown we’ve improved since we squeaked it out in overtime the first time we played them at their place.
“Tonight, I was very proud of our guys. I thought they battled and played through from foul trouble.”
Down by four heading into the final eight minutes of the regular season, the Choctaws went to work to erase the deficit. A jumper and a three-pointer from Martavous Akins put the Choctaws on top with 5:08 left in the game. Jefhry Taylor followed with a layup to extend the lead to 50-49. A pair of free throws from Eagle Trey Davis cut the lead to one, but Emanuel Jackson answered with a layup and Luke Tyler got a quick jumper to give Dyer County a 54-49 lead with 3:45 left in the game. After a brief Eagle rally cut the gap back to three points, two free throws from Jackson and one more from Taylor were followed by a Rico Quinton putback as part of a 5-1 run to give the Choctaws some more breathing room. St. Benedict got a late jumper from Avent Blueitt before a pair of Akins free throws put Dyer County up by seven briefly before a three-pointer from Davis cut it to four with 1:22 left in the game. But, the Choctaws were able to hit four of eight free throws in the final 57 seconds to seal the win for Dyer County.
“I thought Jefhry Taylor really got us going and got us into our offense,” McCord said. “I thought Martavous Akins was sensational in the fourth quarter – hit a big three-pointer, probably the biggest shot of the game.”
Taylor led the way with 15 points while Akins added 11 in the win. Quinton and Ball each had 10 points and nine rebounds despite playing much of the game in foul trouble.
“We’ve got to do a better job of staying in a stance,” McCord said. “The better we do about staying in a stance the easier it is to stay out of foul trouble.”
The Choctaws held the Eagles to 29 percent shooting as a team from the field during the win.
“It’s just so awesome to win on Senior Night for our two seniors,” McCord said. “D.J. Edwards, a guy that’s a great kid and a great practice player. He’s a young man that battled his way back after missing last year with injuries. He’s just a joy to coach and a joy to be around.
“Caleb Ball is a kid that has made steady progress and improved. He’s so cerebral and understands the game, plays hard. Not just a fun kid to coach, but a fun kid to be around.”
The 13AAA Tournament gets underway on Friday night when the Choctaws open the postseason as the No. 3 seed in the tournament and face Hardin County at 7:30 p.m. at Munford High School.
“I think we’ve gotten better in a lot of areas,” McCord said. “We moved the ball around and ran the offense better.
“These guys have proven that there’s some basketball ready to play and hopefully we can get some momentum out of these last two wins.”
The win moves the Choctaws regular season mark to 16-10.