2nd chances lead to ‘foul’ OC taste

2nd chances lead to ‘foul’ OC taste
2nd chances lead to ‘foul’ OC taste
DYERSBURG — Obion Central’s plans for a sectional appearance went a(foul) on Monday evening after the county locals gave Liberty too many second chances.
The No. 7-ranked Lady Crusaders totaled 19 points off offensive rebounds as they bested No. 3 OC 71-62 in the semifinals of the Region 7AA Tournament.
With the defeat, the Lady Rebels, who set a school-record for victories in a campaign this season with a 32-4 worksheet, meet their end in the semis of the region tournament for the fourth straight campaign.
“Foul trouble and second chances is what led to this loss,” OC girls’ coach Lyle LaRue said. “We started the fourth quarter with a seven-point lead, but only two starters on the court because of foul trouble.
“You can get away with stuff like that in October, November and December, but when you’re in the region semifinals against the No. 7 team in the state, it’s going to catch up to you.”
Indeed, Obion Central had to go to the bench during the third quarter for relief as both Brandi Goodman — coming off a 34-point performance against Bolivar in the 7AA quarterfinals — and Macy Wright were whistled for their fourth fouls.
However, Liberty also battled foul troubles throughout the contest. Three of the Lady Crusaders’ starters (Memphis signee Ann Jones, Dahona Leasure and Dominique James) had three fouls prior to intermission.
Liberty’s Keiona Kirby stepped up in the absence of her teammates, totaling a game-high 26 points — 18 after halftime and 13 in the fourth period.
The Lady Crusaders opened the final frame with a 13-2 rally that turned a seven-point Lady Rebel advantage into a four-point cushion for the team from Jackson.
During the spurt, Kirby and Leasure both had a pair of buckets, while Shun Sinclair drained a trifecta.
After Liberty took the lead — 54-52 with just a little over four minutes remaining — Obion Central senior Tristin Terry pleaded with LaRue in a manner witnessed by most of the fans in the gymnasium to take a timeout during a stoppage of play, but her request fell on deaf ears.
“I don’t regret not taking a timeout,” LaRue explained while defending his decision. “We never take timeouts to stop the momentum (of an opponent). We need the timeouts too much at the end of a game to make defensive and offensive substitutions.”
With the score 56-52 in favor of the Lady Crusaders seconds after play resumed, Goodman drove to the lane and dropped in a pair of consecutive buckets to knot the game up one final time.
However, Kirby swished the nylons on a clutch 3 with 3:25 remaining to put Liberty back ahead for good. Goodman did follow with a bucket moments later to draw OC to within a point, but the county locals mustered just two more baskets the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, the Lady Crusaders were money at the charity stripe in the final 2:05, hitting 10-of-11 freebies to slam the door shut on the Lady Rebels’ campaign.
Obion Central had been ahead for most of the second quarter and all of the third period before the Lady Crusaders (26-4) went on a tear to start the final frame.
Midway through the third canto, the Lady Rebels were up by as many as 10 points (43-33).
After Liberty cut the deficit back down to four, Central senior Autumn Yates bottomed a trey from the left corner with five seconds left in the third quarter to give the county locals a seven-point cushion with eight minutes remaining.
Goodman paced Obion Central with 21 markers and a dozen rebounds, while Paige Hicks totaled 10 — all of which she scored before halftime.
Mackenzie Tucker was a point shy of twin figures with nine.
The game was the final in an OC basketball jersey for Tucker, Yates, Terry, Madison Turner, Claire Davis and Carmen Garcia.
Liberty, which will play McNairy Central on Wednesday in the 7A title game and on Saturday in a sectional game against a to-be-determined opponent, had three scorers other than Kirby in twin figures. Jones had 13, Dehona Leasure offered 11 and James totaled 10.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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