Lady Cats lose first game in overtime
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 15, 2006 - QUITMAN - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats got away from home on Tuesday and found the going a little tougher.

After winning their first two homes, both at home, the Lady Cats dropped a 49-45 decision in overtime to the experienced Quitman Lady Bulldogs behind the steady hand of point guard Shawandra McNeal.

McNeal scored a game-high 17 points, including the game-tying 3-pointer with 38 seconds left in the extra period that propelled the Lady Bulldogs to the win. She also had a game-high six steals and five assists.

That helped offset a 12-point, 11-rebound, two-block effort from Sulphur Springs junior post Starkeisha Wright.

Quitman was the first team to show full-court pressure against the Lady Cats, and it worked early on, accounting for 11 first-quarter turnovers. But, the Lady Cats adjusted as the game went on.

"I'm happy that we got to face a team like Quitman," said SSHS head coach Tina Carrillo. "We're a younger team and they're a more experienced team. It was good for the five who were on the bench at any given time to see their tempo against our pressure last night.

"The coaches pointed that out to players on the bench. I think that kind of helped with their experience, and toward the end of the game we started handling their pressure a little better."

Sulphur Springs overcame a 7-point deficit in the final 85 seconds of regulation behind a low-post bucket from Wright, a 3-pointer from junior Jessica Savage and a pair of free throws from senior Cresha Hubbard to tie the game at 38-38.

Then, in the four-minute extra period, the Lady Cats took a 45-39 lead with 1:54 to play on a 3-pointer from freshman Stephanie Pruitt and a pair of free throws by Wright. But, Quitman's Niki Kemp responded with a trey of her own to cut the deficit in half, then McNeal canned a 3-pointer from thecorner to tie the game with 38 seconds to play.

Sulphur Springs turned the ball over on the next possession and Quitman got a fast break bucket from Kemp to go ahead with 12 seconds left. After an SSHS miss and Quitman defensive rebound on the next possession, the game was effectively over.

Quitman ended the game with 20 steals and forced 28 SSHS turnovers.

"I noticed we were panicked coming out," Carrillo said. "We weren't playing in our home gym, and we didn't look comfortable playing away. This was the first team to throw pressure at us, and I think it was good for our inexperienced players. This is what preseason is all about.

"We kind of beat ourselves in the first half, but I thought Quitman won the game in overtime. They did the things they needed to do in overtime."

The Lady Cats fought uphill the entire game as Quitman scored three straight buckets in the final 30 seconds of the first quarter to take an 11-5 lead.

The Lady Cats never led until overtime, though they outscored Quitman 12-11 in the second period behind a pair of buckets from Wright, a Hubbard bucket off an inbound play and a pull-up jumper from Emily Bouyear.

Hubbard ended the game with four points and five rebounds, while Bouyear had four points, two steals and two assists.

Quitman extended a 22-17 halftime lead to 32-25 at the end of the third quarter as McNeal had all 10 of the Lady Bulldogs' points. The SSHS deficit continued into the fourth quarter, but Savage, who finished with nine points, hit a pair of 3-pointers to jump start the Lady Cat offense.

Sulphur Springs ended up shooting about 33 percent from the field (16-49), while Quitman hit 20-of-57.

The Lady Cats play host team Quinlan Ford in the Roundball Roundup at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

SSHS JV 21, Quitman 20

SSHS sophomore Erika Garrett knocked down a 3-pointer and two free throws to raise the Lady Cats from a three-point deficit late in the fourth quarter, then Amy Highfield made a pair of defense plays to allow SSHS to hold onto the win.

Garrett led the team with 11 points and Jaime Askins added seven points, four steals and four rebounds. Alyssa Burney scored one point to go with six rebounds, five steals and three assists, and Melanie Hudson added two points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Highfield had four rebounds and a steal.

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