The Lady Eagles began their postseason quest in Mathiston on the campus of Woods Institute this past Friday and Saturday. In the first step for a chance to make the MAIS Single-A State Tournament, Hebron Christian took on fellow district-mates in the district 3A Tournament.
Hebron could not have asked for a better time to start their postseason as the Lady Eagles were carrying a three-game varsity winning streak and playing some of their best basketball thus far in the season.
Friday night was the opening round of the tournament slating Hebron against rival Kemper Academy. The Lady Rams and Lady Eagles had split a pair of close games during the regular season and the game looked to be another 12-round bout.
During the opening quarter of play, Hebron and Kemper both exchanged baskets and looked evenly matched as both teams sought to grab the upper-hand in the proceedings. At the close of the quarter, Hebron and the Lady Rams were deadlocked 12-12. Kemper opened the second period off with a quick grab of the lead, going up 17-12 by the midway point of the second. The Lady Eagles though looked the better team with selfless team passing to go on a 12-5 run to close out the first half of the contest. The Hebron 12-5 run was fueled by good post-play by freshman center Victoria Ferguson, scoring 6 points during the four-minute run and 10 points in the first half alone. Ferguson and her Lady Eagle teammates headed into the locker room with confidence, leading the Lady Rams 24-22.
The confidence never faltered during the second half as the Lady Eagles absolutely dominated Kemper from the start to the finish of the half. Under the leadership of eight-graders Rebekah Falkner and Holly Hudson, Hebron outscored the Lady Rams 16-4 to take a commanding 40-26 lead into the final quarter. Falkner and Hudson accounted for 9 points and 6 points respectively during the third period. The Lady Eagles closed the fourth quarter still in major control and punching their ticket to final 54-36 over Kemper.
â€śThe girls did a very good job working together, they are maturing, even though they are young,â€ť commented head coach William Cotton following the semi-final victory over the Lady Rams, â€śthey are starting to gel in tournament time and have put us in a good position to go to the North Central.â€ť
With their ticket punched to the championship game, the Lady Eagles knew there was a tall task standing before them. Hebron would have to defend their seven district tournament title streak against a very challenging Winona Christian Lady Stars. In the regular season, Winona took the spoils in both region contests defeating the Lady Eagles by double-digits in each game.
In a very bruising Saturday match-up, Hebron and the Lady Stars went toe-to-toe in the opening period of the tournament final. The game was close at the finish of the first quarter as Winona only etched out a 10-6 gap over the Lady Eagles. The second quarter was the Achilles heel for Hebron as the Lady Stars proved their offensive prowess outscoring Hebron 11-3 in the quarter. Point guard Subrina Oswaltâ€™s three-pointer was the saving grace for a near scoreless eight-minutes for Hebron. Winona knew they had the advantage at the halftime break, up 21-9.
In the second half, Winona continued their offensive dominance as the Lady Eagles failed to ever answer the Lady Stars with points of their own. Winona closed the third quarter in the ascendancy 37-18. The fourth period did not hold much for either the Lady Stars or Hebron as both teams seemed content to wrap-up the contest. Winona was able to hold on to the double-digit lead and clinch the district 3-A tournament title 42-20 and ending the Hebron streak.
â€śWe went ice-cold and if you canâ€™t hit shots, you canâ€™t hit shots,â€ť said Cotton after the championship loss to the Winona Lady Stars, â€śI attribute this to growing pains, playing a veteran team with our youth just doesnâ€™t match up well.â€ť
The Lady Eagles had good performances in both weekend tournament games from Rebekah Falkner and Holly Hudson. Falkner and Hudson finished with 17 points each in the 54-36 win over Kemper. Also reaching the double-digits against the Lady Rams was Victoria Ferguson with 12 points. In the district final against Winona, Falkner led with 8 points and Oswalt was able to contribute with 7 points.
Even with a loss in the championship game, Hebron still sits in a good position heading into the North Central Tournament at Calhoun Academy. Placing as the second seed, the season goal to make the Single-A State tournament is still alive. The road to the state tournament continue this afternoon as the two-seed Lady Eagles will take on District 4 three-seed Sharkey-Issaquena Academy tipping-off at 4 p.m.