|Lady Cats beat Mount Pleasant on Senior Night|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Feb. 4, 2006 - The Sulphur Springs seniors couldn't have asked for a better script Friday night.
Tied with Mount Pleasant with 11 seconds to play and inbounding the ball at midcourt in front of a vocal Senior Night crowd, the Lady Cats had an opportunity to put their mark on the district race.
They did it.
Coming out of a time out, the Lady Cats inbounded the ball to senior Whitney Jordan, who fired a pass to classmate Bridgette Nash as she held off the district's Defensive Player of the Year, Jasmine King, under the basket. Nash turned to her right and got the ball just past the outstretched arms of King onto the rim, where it sweetly rolled in with 4.5 seconds to play to give the Lady Cats a 41-39 victory.
Mount Pleasant had one final shot, but missed badly to end the game.
The win gave the Lady Cats a 10-19 record overall, 2-7 in District 12-4A, and put Mount Pleasant (14-14, 4-5) on the cusp of falling out of the playoff race.
MP must beat Paris (19-12, 8-1) and have North Lamar (20-10, 8-1) beat Texas High (14-14, 5-4) to finish tied for third in the district. Sulphur Springs finishes the season on Tuesday at Greenville (0-26, 0-9).
The game played out as dramatically as SSHS coach Tina Carrillo thought it would. The Lady Cats took a 38-32 lead with 80 seconds to play on a 15-foot jumper from sophomore Star Wright. But, MP's King scored two straight buckets to pull the Tigers to within 38-36 with 34 seconds to play.
Nash was fouled on a defensive rebound with 32 seconds left and made one free throw to give the Lady Cats a 3-point advantage.
But, Mount Pleasant's Katera Wilson, who was 0-for-5 from the field, made a long 3-pointer to tie the game with 22 seconds remaining.
Sulphur Springs inbounded the ball and got to midcourt with 11 seconds left, when the Lady Cats were initially whistled for a backcourt violation. But, after the officials huddled, they ruled possession had not been established in the front court and gave the ball back to SSHS.
Carrillo then called a timeout and draw up the winning play.
"That was exactly the play, and they ran it to perfection," she said. "The Plan B of that play was that if they sunk down and helped out on Bridgette, then let's kick it out and have ice water in our veins and take that outside shot.
"When it comes down to one last shot, you've got to take the open one. I figured they would double down on Bridgette, and they didn't. She used the drop step that she never uses, and it rolled in - she got that shooters' roll."
Nash finished with 12 points and four rebounds, while Jordan added four points, three rebounds, two steals and two assists. Fellow senior Kaytlin Black added a steal.
Sophomore Stephanie Conley had the biggest game of all the Lady Cats, leading the team in points (14), rebounds (11), steals (5) and assists (4). It was the fifth straight game Conley has had double figures in rebounds.
The game was close throughout. The Lady Cats' largest lead was eight points in the first quarter, while Mount Pleasant's biggest advantage was five points in the second period.
"As a coach, you know before the game whether your players are ready or not, and tonight they were ready," Carrillo said. "I knew it was going to be a close game - I just didn't know which way it would go. It feels good to come out on the winning end like this."
The Lady Cats took an early 10-2 lead as Conley had a pair of putbacks and two assists, one each to Nash and Wright, who had seven points and four rebounds.
But, Mount Pleasant sawed the lead to 14-10 by the end of the first period and eventually took a 23-19 halftime advantage as King started to get more involved, scoring the final six points of the half. She finished with a game-high 20 points to go with five rebounds and six steals.
Thirty seconds into the third quarter, MP's Denise Amador hit a 3-pointer to put MP up, 26-21, but the Lady Cats held MP scoreless for more than 11 minutes, outscoring the Lady Tigers, 12-0, to take a 33-26 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
King hit four straight buckets for MP in the fourth quarter as the Lady Tigers eventually tied the game, only to lose in the final seconds.
For Sulphur Springs, freshman McKenzie Cross had two points, two steals and three assists, sophomore Shardae Jones added a bucket and junior Emily Bouyear had a rebound and a steal.
But, this win was mostly about the seniors.
"This game is the most memorable senior game you can have for these seniors playing their last game on this floor, and what a way to win it," Carrillo said. "We became an upset team because that team (Mount Pleasant) was vying for the playoffs.
"Our girls came in tonight and shined. They played to the end."
Mount Pleasant 52, SSHS 37
The Lady Cats played a nice first half, taking a 19-15 halftime lead. But, MP turned the turned the tables in the second half.
Freshman Erika Garrett led the Lady Cats with 10 points, five steals and three assists, while Janelle Davis added seven points and 11 rebounds. Stevie Moore contributed eight points and seven boards.
Tasha Lee put in six points and grabbed six rebounds, Brittany Scott had four points, Jennifer Mitchell had two points and two assists, and Alyssa Burney added six rebounds and two steals.
Mount Pleasant 42, SSHS 37
The Lady Cats had a six-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter.
Neisha Miles led the team in scoring with 11 points and four steals, Talea Reynolds added 10 points and two steals, and Kayle Askins contributed nine points, three steals and five assists.
Jamie Askins added four points and five rebounds, Amy Highland had two points and two rebounds, Molly Smith added one point and two boards, Rachel Johnson and April Wright combined for three rebounds.