Yantis advances to area round

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 14, 2007 - MOUNT VERNON - The Yantis Lady Owls went into Tuesday night's playoff game having to look up to Simms James Bowie. But, when the Lady Owls left the court, they were standing tall.

Yantis overcame an immense height disadvantage by using a quick defense and free throw shooting to hand the Lady Pirates a 47-43 defeat in the bi-district round of the Class A, Div. I playoffs.

Yantis will advance to the area round, where they will face Mount Enterprise at 7 p.m. Friday in Big Sandy.

The Lady Owls forced 31 turnovers by coming up with 23 steals and made half their points from the free throw line as they fought back from an eight-point deficit midway through the third quarter.

Senior Jamie Snider led Yantis with 19 points, eight steals and five rebounds, Amanda Collins added 11 points and seven boards, and Jayna Bevill came up with 11 rebounds and eight points.

Bevill, at 5-9, was the tallest girl on the court for Yantis, while James Bowie started a pair of 6-footers in Kourtney Birdsong and Carissa Rogers, and brought another one off the bench (Megan Hammonds). Rogers had a team-high 15 points and seven boards, while Birdsong added nine points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots, but they both fouled out late in the fourth period.

Yantis coach Lane Loyd said beforehand that the Lady Owls would have to use their hustle and desire to overcome their lack of size. That's exactly what they did.

"We were trying to just take it to them. The girls did a great job stepping up tonight," Loyd said. "They showed a lot of heart.

"We try to play that kind of hustling defense. We don't have many other strengths, to be honest, other than playing hard and with a lot of heart."

The fourth quarter is when the Lady Owls shined. They broke a 34-34 tie with about four minutes left in the game by going on an extended 9-3 run that lifted them to a 43-37 lead with 95 seconds left.

The run started with Snider coming up with her final steal of the game and getting a lay-up, followed by a lay-up from Bevill off Snider's long press-breaking pass. Bowie's Heidi Leinberger had a putback basket, but Yantis' Collins answered with a pair of free throws after being fouled on a drive and Amanda McKinney popped in a 10-footer off the right wing.

But, Yantis was called for its second technical foul (Bowie was also hit with one), and Bowie's Danielle Bailey hit both free throws and Birdsong followed with a driving lay-up to bring the Lady Pirates to within two points at 43-41 with 65 seconds left.

Yantis maintained the two-point lead as Snider and freshman Shelby Allen each hit one free throw to counter Mollie Sherrer's second-chance basket for James Bowie.

But, Bowie turned the ball over with nine seconds remaining as a long pass went out of bounds. Forced to foul, they hacked Snider, who made both free throws with seven seconds remaining to seal the game.

It was the Lady Owls' defensive pressure that allowed them to stay in the game in the first three periods. When they fell behind by eight points in the third period, they came up with three steals to get some easy points and get them to within 33-30 at the end of the period.

McKinney finished with five steals and Bevill, Allen and Collins each had three take-aways.

"We had some defense schemes that fooled them," Loyd said. "We disguised our man as a zone, and they kind of shut down their man movement, and we were kind of able to hang with them in our sneaky man.

"We extended our press out. They had some problems early in our zone press, so we turned up the heat in our man and it made them just enough uncomfortable so they couldn't get their offense going and feed their big girls inside."

The Lady Owls also attacked offensively, getting to the line 43 times and making 24 shots. That helped offset an 11-for-56 (20 percent) performance from the field.

Bowie made 15-of-46 (33 percent) from the field and 13-of-29 from the free throw line as the teams combined for 72 free throws. There were 50 fouls called and four girls fouled out.

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