Picture prettied by ugly OC win

Picture prettied by ugly OC win
Picture prettied by ugly OC win

Obion Central’s Paige Hicks falls forward during the Lady Rebels’ win on Thursday.
DYERSBURG — Winning ugly had never looked so good to Lyle LaRue.
“When that buzzer went off, I didn’t care anything about how it looked. I was just happy that we won,” the Obion Central girls’ coach said after his third-ranked team clinched a berth in the District 13AA Tournament championship game with a less-than-artistic 53-50 win over No. 9 Dyersburg Thursday night.
The top seeded Lady Rebels (30-3) not only punched their ticket for Monday night’s finals against reigning two-time state champion Gibson County with their 14th consecutive victory, — but equally as important — locked up a home game in the first round of the regional tournament next week against an undetermined opponent.
“We’ll play for a trophy Monday night, and it’s just as big that we’ll get to host a region quarterfinal game against a pretty good team,” LaRue continued.
“That’s two pretty good things to come out of tonight, no matter what it looked like.”
Thursday’s victory — a milestone in that it marked just the third time in the illustrious 49-year history of the program that a Lady Rebel squad has won 30 games in a season — admittedly wasn’t OC’s best effort of the 2010-11 campaign.
It was however, achieved against a quality opponent and despite the fact that Obion Central shot just 35 percent from the field; 55 percent from the free throw line; and with its top two offensive threats (Brandi Goodman and Macy Wright) limited to just 18 points combined.
Sophomore Paige Hicks stepped up big-time, though, attacking the rim regularly and finishing with a game-high 19 points for the Lady Rebels who didn’t take their first lead until late in the third period on a Billie Dee Preuett 3-pointer that made it 36-35.
OC had trailed by as many as eight points before that in the first half when Goodman picked up her third foul early in the second period and was forced to the bench without having scored a single point.
“I think the ugliness of the game came from the fact that both coaches had three game films of the other and were able to make some adjustments from those tapes,” added LaRue, whose club won for the third time in four meetings this year vs. D’burg.
“And I think you have to consider the jobs both teams did defensively. We really got after each other.
“For us, it was so very important that we were able to stay close and be down by only three points at the half with Brandi on the bench so long. Paige Hicks really stepped up and did a great job of driving to the basket. Our No. 1 option offensively is to go inside, but we have other people who can play, too.”
Goodman became a factor in the second half when she scored all 13 of her points and also yanked down most of her eight rebounds. She converted an old-fashioned 3-point play from the low-block late in the third stanza to stretch the difference to five points, and also scored from in close early in the fourth to give Central a two-possession lead.
The Rebel girls managed to hang on down the stretch after leading by as much as 45-38 on Hicks’ final bucket halfway through the fourth quarter, despite continued shaky foul line shooting that has been a problem area all season.
Two freebies on a one-and-one by Hicks with 23 seconds left finally iced the outcome and provided for the largest gap of the contest — 53-45.
Dyersburg (24-7), which shot just 32 percent from the field itself for the game, did not make a fourth-quarter field goal until the 3:21 mark when Madison Butler hit from beyond the arc. The Lady Trojans connected just four times from the field in the final eight minutes to hamper their rally hopes.
D’burg standout Kay K. Tate, who was hounded individually by Wright in a couple of junk defensive schemes in the first half, had 12 points, as did Butler and Jolyta Taylor for the Black and Gold.
The Lady Trojans will play Westview — a 57-40 loser to Gibson County in Thursday’s first semifinal — for third place Monday night.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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