The Clarksville Lady Tigers continued their magical march through the post season on Friday night as first year head coach LaTisha Hearne’s team knocked down a very tough Honey Grove Lady Warriors squad by a heart-stopping 54-50 area round playoff margin in action staged in the Chisum High School gym. It was the 20th win of the season for Clarksville, which has 13 defeats also.
It was a game of big plays with the outcome not known until the final seconds. Honey Grove held a lead for most of the night building a seven point, 27-20 advantage at intermission, and then taking a 37-29 lead when Chan Pruitt scored off the break with 1:41 remaining in period three. But in a contest that remained close during the majority of the four quarters, Clarksville would just keep charging back.
Lady Tigers all-state point guard LaQuesha Clark had another steady performance as she led all scorers with 21 points. Clark was able to make outstanding drives into the lane for buckets, and she also knocked down a 3-point field goal. Once again she joined junior reserve Madison Gill in leading the Lady Tigers charge to the win. Gill followed Clark in scoring with 15 points, and admitted that seriousness filled her body, but that nervousness only fueled her fire.
“I was very nervous, but we knew that we had to keep fighting, and we had to come back. Now we got to keep pushing and try to get to state,” Gill said.
It was the Lady Warriors who entered the final quarter clinging to a two-point lead. But Clarksville would quickly deadlock the game at 39-all when senior, Makaiya Owens scored on a beautiful baseline drive. Allie Towery pushed the Lady Warriors ahead once again with a long range jumper, before Ashley Rosser responded for Clarksville with a 3-pointer, handing Hearne’s team a 42-41 lead with 6:26 left in the Lady Warriors season.
Down the stretch it was all out war as the teams engaged in two ties and four lead changes. With 2:44 left in the game, Hone Grove moved to a 49-48 lead on a 3-point field goal, but after that it was the Lady Tigers who played shutdown defense. Clark put Clarksville up for good at 50-49 when she splashed into the lane for a bucket with 2:20 left.
At the 1:12 mark of the fourth, Clarksville was in the bonus with Gill pumping in a pair of free throws to increase the Clarksville advantage to 52-49. And with 56 ticks remaining in regulation, Maddison Cason dropped in a charity shot signaling the end of scoring for Honey Grove during the night.
Late in the game, Clark would add an exceptional block of a Finney shot down low after the senior post had recorded a steal, and a hustle play for a rebound from Clarksville senior forward Makiyla Bradley certainly helped to preserve the win.
“This game went good for us, but we could have played harder. We held our ground and pulled out this win. Next game we are going to play with a lot more energy, and play more as a team, so we can go father than the third round,” Bradley explained.
The opening period was extremely tight, as the squads engaged in four ties, and ended the frame deadlocked at 11-11. In period two the score was tied 15-all thanks to a Clark coast to coast layup for the Lady Tigers, but Cason nailed a deep 3-pointer, and Pruitt drilled in another 3 as the Lady Warriors moved to a 21-15 advantage with 4:14 left in the initial half. With 4:01 remaining in the second quarter, Clark fired in a 3 to close the gap to just three points at 21-18, but Clarksville would add just two more points before the intermission, with that bucket coming with 2:11 left as Gill was true with a putback.
“After four years of trying to get past the second round, we feel we deserved to win tonight. And we’ve been having the same group working to go past this round.,” Clark said.
Clark added that she is confident going into the next round, and she knows the opponents won’t get any easier, but she also says that at this point of the playoffs any team is beatable.
Honey Grove girls coach Dusty Smith said he was proud of the effort that his young team displayed in defeat. He said the team played well in executing what he wanted them to do and he had hoped that certain things would have bounced his team’s way. Smith also mentioned that his team has really grown since the start of the season, and his players have learned a lot.
Clarksville will face Hawkins in a third round game early this week. Hawkins slipped past Bland 44-42 in area round action on Friday night.