Staying Alive: Lady Cats remain in district race with 63-59 win over Paris

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

Jan. 19, 2008 - PARIS - Whoever lost between the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats and Paris on Friday would likely be dead when it comes to the playoff race.

Chalk one up for the Lady Cats' survival instinct.

Sulphur Springs held off Paris, 63-59, in the combined highest scoring game of the season to remain in fourth place in the District 11-4A standings, one game behind Lindale for the final playoff spot.

The 63 points were the most Sulphur Springs (10-14 overall, 2-3 in district) has scored in two months, and they needed them all as Paris (1-4, 8-18) tied the score with three minutes remaining in the game.

SSHS senior Starkeisha Wright broke the tie with the final two of her season-high 25 points and junior Mackenzie Cross made 5-of-6 free throws in the last 2:24 of the game to offset a pair of baskets by Paris' Ariole Jenkins, who was one of three Paris players to score 13 points. The others were Tiara Hall and Tiffany Green.

For SSHS, Cross finished with 10 points, five rebounds, five steals and five assists, and sophomore guard Stephanie Pruitt hit three 3-pointers to end with 16 points.

Both teams shot well from the field, with SSHS hitting 46 percent (23-of-50) and Paris knocking down 42 percent (23-of-56). That figured into the teams scoring a combined 122 points, the most in a Sulphur Springs game this season.

Paris started off the game scoring, taking a 7-1 lead just two minutes into the game before Sulphur Springs went on a 12-2 run to go up 13-9 at the end of the period. The run was fueled by Wright and Cross, who combined for 10 of the points.

The Lady Cats' lead reached 12 points (31-19) near the end of the second period when SSHS senior Stephanie Conley took a pass from Pruitt and flipped in a short jump shot. But, Paris countered with four straight points, including a fast break bucket by Green as the buzzer sounded to cut the halftime deficit to 31-23.

The third quarter turned into a 3-point shooting contest. The teams combined for five 3-point shots and two conventional 3-point plays.

The 3-point barrage started at the 5:30 mark when Jenkins, one of four freshmen on the Paris team, knocked down a long 3-pointer and her diminutive classmate Shanice Hill followed with another to cut the SSHS lead to one point, 37-36. But, Pruitt hit back-to-back treys for Sulphur Springs before Hill ripped another one with 1:45 to play that left SSHS ahead 43-39.

Wright scored on a conventional 3-point play with four seconds left in the period to give the Lady Cats what appeared to be a comfortable seven-point lead, 46-39.

But, Paris came storming back in the fourth quarter, getting four slashing drives to the basket by Jenkins. Paris' Tykia Epperson tied the game at 53-53 with four minutes to play. Sulphur Springs' Conley hit a 10-foot jumper off an inbound pass from Ashanti Ivery to regain the lead. Conley finished with seven points, nine rebounds and five steals.

But, Paris' Tiara Hall, another freshman, scored to tie the game again at 3:25. Wright then rolled to the basket with a layup to give SSHS a 57-55 advantage. Paris put Sulphur Springs into the double bonus with five minutes to play, and that came in handy over the final 150 seconds when Cross and Pruitt made 6-of-8 free throws.

The teams left the game with nearly identical stats. Both teams made 23 field goals and SSHS only out-rebounded Paris by two (35-33). Sulphur Springs did have twice as many free throws (14-of-26 compared to 7-of-10) and more than twice as many steals (17-7).

Sulphur Springs can forge a tie with Lindale for third place on Tuesday if SSHS beats last-place Texas High (0-5, 2-20) while district-leading North Lamar (5-0, 22-5) defeats Lindale (3-2, 17-9). The Lady Cats travel to Texarkana on Tuesday, with the freshmen game starting the three-game set at 4:30 p.m.

Junior Varsity

SSHS 71, Paris 34

All 11 Lady Cats scored and had at least three rebounds as they improved to 4-1 in district, 20-6 overall.

The statistics were: Talea Reynolds, 17 points, four rebounds; Kayla Phillips, 12 points, five rebounds; JaMonica Hall, nine points, five rebounds, nine steals, three assists; Linsey Fouse, eight points, six steals, four assists; Kayle Askins, six points, four rebounds, four steals, five assists; Melanie Hudson, six points, nine rebounds; Jamie Askins, four points, six rebounds, four steals, eight assists; Chasity Hall, three points; Alyssa Burney, two points, four rebounds, three assists; Justine Hatley, two points, four rebounds; Miranda Escobar, two points, five rebounds, two assists.

Freshmen

SSHS 34, Paris 28

Sulphur Springs improved to 2-3 in district, 6-17 overall.

Frankeisha Hawkins had nine points and eight rebounds, Bre Edwards added six points, Caitlyn Nix recorded three points and seven boards, Kyri Ivery scored four points and had five rebounds and three blocks, and Arial Spataro added three points, four steals and two assists.

Scoring two points were Bradyn Burney (two steals, two assists), Tyesha Thomas (two steals), Taylor Eastwood and Megan Massey. Cydnie Finnie added one point and four rebounds.

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