The Paris Lady Wildcats basketball team hosted the Prairiland Lady Patriots in a high-quality non district matchup. The game was close throughout with neither team holding more than an eight-point lead, and the teams needed four extra minutes to decide the winner.
It came to overtime, but ultimately the Lady ’Cats prevailed by a final score of 60-59 despite a strong challenge from Prairiland.
“We’re getting stops and tonight we played a very fundamentally sound team,” Lady ’Cats head basketball coach Jeff Chapman said. “Their go-to player was number 11 (Baylor Sessums), she made a lot happen, and they have a good big girl (Hannah Murdock) that’s got some experience. Once these kids get more experience and improve fundamentally, we will be better for it.”
The Lady Patriots held a 24-23 lead at halftime, but the Lady ’Cats’ scorers started to heat up in the third quarter. Paris junior Quiniya Savage split a pair of free throws with 2:06 left in the quarter, then freshman post Zakia Gray hit a layup with 1:33 left to give Paris a 34-31 lead. Lady ’Cats freshman Keshanti Gordon made a driving layup with 47 seconds left to extend the lead to 36-31, then freshman guard Naomi Fountain drained a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left in the quarter to give Paris a 39-31 lead as the teams entered the fourth quarter.
“We have more than one person that can take the ball to the hole, so it’s good to have a team where everybody can score and share the ball,” Savage said. “We don’t have to count on just one person, we know we can count on anyone to score at any time.”
“These girls are seeing things that other kids don’t see, and them playing around boys as youngsters helps,” Chapman said. “We have a few girls that really understand the game and, even though our inexperience holds us back a little bit, we are blessed to have these girls in the program. It’s a process, but everyone is stepping up. When the play breaks down, we have more kids that can go and make a play. You can run offense all day long — pass and cut — but our playmakers are making differences.”
Despite Paris’ success on offense, Prairiland was not done.
The Lady Patriots opened the fourth quarter on an 11-4 run capped off by back-to-back buckets from junior T.J. Folse with the last coming with 2:58 left to cut the deficit to 43-42. Paris scored three quick points to extend the lead to 46-42 with 2:24 left, but Lady Patriots junior post Hannah Murdock swished two free throws with 1:50 left to trim Paris’ lead to 46-44. After Prairiland junior guard Malorie Sneed hit a free throw 25 seconds later to make it a 46-45 deficit, Savage finished an and-one layup plus the foul shot with 1:09 left to stretch the lead to 49-45.
Lady Patriots senior Madison Clark drew a foul on a one-and-one and hit both free throws with 48.4 seconds to go, then Murdock made two free throws down the stretch to tie the game at 49-all. Gray made a layup on the break with 15 seconds left to give Paris a 51-49 lead, but Murdock finished on a layup with 7 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime tied at 51-51.
The teams traded buckets in overtime, until Gordon’s nice euro-step layup with 46 seconds left in the extra period put Paris ahead for good at 59-57. Gray made a free throw with 18.7 seconds left to extend the lead to 60-57, but Murdock made a layup with 8 seconds left to cut the deficit to 60-59. The teams exchanged turnovers, then Paris got the ball in bounds to Gordon, the clock ran out and the game ended in favor of Paris.
The Lady Patriots trailed by eight points late, but refused to give up down the stretch.
“It all came from the girls,” Lady Patriots head basketball coach Callie Tucker said. “We didn’t change a whole lot. What we were doing was working and they executed it well. They fought themselves back into the game, and I’m proud of the way they fought. Last year they would have folded, but this group is different.”
Savage led Paris with 19 points, a team-high she scored in the win, which was her birthday. Gordon added 14 points, while Gray finished with 11 points. Sessums led Prairiland with 19 points, while Murdock scored 17 points.
“In every game we’ve played, we’ve gotten better, and we’re getting better for district,” Tucker said. “I told the girls that we are building up for district, and we’re right where we want to be. We have a week to prep, clean things up and get after it.”
The Lady ’Cats will play again at 6 p.m. Friday at home against Idabel, while the Lady Patriots take the court again at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against Chapel Hill in the teams’ district opener, getting the chance to take another step in the right direction.
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT F
Prairiland: 17 7 7 20 8 59
Paris: 11 12 16 12 9 60
Prairiland scorers: B. Sessums, 19; H. Murdock, 17; M. Clark, 6; C. Folse, 5; E. Mouser, 5; T. Folse, 4; M. Sneed, 4
Paris scorers: Q. Savage, 19; K. Gordon, 14; Z. Gray, 11; J. Dangerfield, 7; T. Moore, 6; N. Fountain, 3
Prairiland FGM: B. Sessums, 7; H. Murdock, 4; M. Clark, 2; C. Folse, 2; T. Folse, 2; E. Mouser, 2; M. Sneed, 1
Paris FGM: K. Gordon, 7; Q. Savage, 6; Z. Gray, 4; J. Dangerfield, 3; T. Moore, 2; N. Fountain, 1
Prairiland 3PFGM: B. Sessums, 3; E. Mouser, 1
Paris 3PFGM: J. Dangerfield, 1; N. Fountain, 1
Prairiland FT: 11-for-21; H. Murdock, 5-9; M. Clark, 2-3; B. Sessums, 2-4; M. Sneed, 1-2;
Paris FT: 12-for-23; Q. Savage, 7-13; T. Moore, 2-3; Z. Gray, 2-5; K. Gordon, 0-1