Senior Night ends on sour note for Lady Cats

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

Feb. 6, 2008 - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats took a slim lead into the fourth quarter on Tuesday, but once Paris got the lead back, they never let go.

Paris built up a six-point lead, its largest of the game, midway through the final period, then held off Sulphur Springs for a 55-53 victory that spoiled the Lady Cats' Senior Night and season finale.

The Paris win knotted both teams at 3-7 in District 11-4A and tied for fourth place. North Lamar finished off the district season with a 10-0 record, while Mount Pleasant finished as runner-up at 8-2, and Lindale claimed the final playoff spot with a 6-4 mark.

Sulphur Springs (11-18 overall) led 41-40 going into the fourth quarter, but Paris (10-21) took the lead 90 seconds in and built its advantage to 49-43 with 3:23 left when freshman guard Shanice Hill wrapped a behind-the-back pass to Shawntanea Akins for a layup. Akins finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Hill had five points.

The Lady Cats cut into the deficit and got to within one possession, 52-50, when junior Mackenzie Cross hit a pull-up floater in the lane with 63 seconds remaining. Cross had 15 points for Sulphur Springs, as did senior Starkeisha Wright. The other two seniors playing their final game, Stephanie Conley and Jessica Savage, each finished with nine points.

Paris put the game out of reach, though, when Hill made the front end of a one-and-one with 37 seconds left, and Sulphur Springs turned the ball over four seconds later. Paris' Ariole Jenkins, who scored a game-high 17 points, then drove the lane for a layup with 27 seconds left for a 55-50 advantage.

"They definitely made the plays in the end, and we didn't make very good decisions offensively in the end," said SSHS head coach Tina Carrillo. "It was very intense, very physical. When they got their lead, they held onto it, like they needed to, and we just couldn't get it back."

The Lady Cats have had trouble keeping teams from scoring in the paint recently, and Tuesday was no exception. Paris scored 50 of its points from either in the lane or from the free throw line, where they went 16-of-22.

That offset a solid night shooting for Sulphur Springs. The Lady Cats hit 47 percent of their field goal attempts (17-of-36), while Paris made just 38 percent. But, Paris grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, eight more than SSHS, so they were able to take 11 more shots from the field.

Sulphur Springs got off to a great start in the first quarter, taking a 12-4 lead behind a pair of 3-pointers from Savage and a couple of shots in the lane by Conley.

Paris, though, got back into the game in the second period despite eight points by Cross. Paris had five players score in the quarter, and when Akins put back an offensive rebound with five seconds left before halftime, Paris trailed just 25-22.

The lead see-sawed back and forth in the third period, with Paris taking a five-point lead, then Sulphur Springs answering with an 8-0 run which was fueled by a Savage 3-pointer, and a Conley layup off a steal by Wright.

Once Paris got a lead, though, in the final period, they refused to let go.

"We had balanced point production, but we just didn't make plays at the end," Carrillo said. "I thought we were as athletic, in certain combinations, as Paris. We pressed them in hopes that we could force some turnovers by their young guards and hopefully tire them out, but it didn't work."

Junior Varsity

SSHS 51, Paris 19

The Lady Cat JV ended with a 23-8 record, 7-3 in district, which was good enough for a runner-up finish.

JaMonica Hall led SSHS with 19 points, eight rebounds and five steals, while Kayla Phillips added 13 points and seven boards. Linsey Fouse had five points and five rebounds, Alyssa Burney had four points, five rebounds and four steals, and Melanie Hudson added four points.

Kayle Askins added two points, five steals and four assists, Jamie Askins had two points, four rebounds and two assists, and Talea Reynolds scored two points. Justine Hatley had four rebounds.

Freshmen

Paris 34, SSHS 29

Tyesha Thomas scored nine points and had three rebounds for the Lady Cats (8-19, 3-7), and Frankeisha Hawkins added six points and nine rebounds. Caitlyn Nix contributed five points and four steals, Megan Massey had four points, two steals and two assists, and Ariel Spataro had three points. Katie Hu scored two points and Taylor Eastwood grabbed six rebounds.

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