Lady Warriors hold off Tupelo in 6A QuartersBy CAMAL PETRO,
JACKSON – It wasn’t a season-high in points, but junior Jazmin Grayson saved one of her best games of the season for the right time.
Powered by her 12 points and eight rebounds, the Oak Grove Lady Warriors beat the Tupelo Lady Wave 50-46 Saturday in the 6A Semifinals.
“It feels great,” Grayson said. “I love this feeling.”
Grayson scored 10 first-half points to keep Oak Grove within striking distance at the break, but she fouled out in the fourth quarter. In fact, Oak Grove had three starters foul out in the contest, as senior Janay Baxter and junior Alesha Temple also recorded five fouls.
“It’s crazy,” Oak Grove coach Mark Swindle said. “We’ve been like this all year with losing different players and fouling out, and somebody seems to step up. It’s just amazing. What a game.”
All three fouled out in what seemed like back-to-back-to-back plays, and Oak Grove held the lead during the series of unfortunate events, too. The Lady Warriors used free throws from seniors Umayah Harvey and Constance Durr to help keep the Lady Wave from tying the game.
Temple led the team in rebounds and points with 12 and 14, respectively. Entering the contest, Swindle knew his team had an advantage in the paint with Temple, but the Lady Warriors needed a reliable guard to drive the court.
That’s where Grayson comes into play because Tupelo was going to pressure the ball handler all the way up the floor.
“She played hard,” Swindle said. “We knew they were going to play full court and it was going to be that kind of game. We just stayed in there, didn’t give up and made some free throws at the end.
“She shot the ball better, but as far as her play and getting the ball up the court, she was big. If we don’t have her, I don’t know if we get the ball up the court or not.”
Senior Lekera Hughes played 16 minutes Saturday, as she is still coming back from her knee injury that kept her out the majority of the season. During the time she was out, Grayson earned valuable experience and playing time.
“I would say (this was one of my best games) because I was getting to the rim more,” Grayson said. “I wasn’t settling for my shot and I was getting to the free throw line. It was a good experience (when Hughes was hurt) but with her back, it’s even better.”
Oak Grove held an 11-8 lead after the first quarter only to go into halftime down by five points. The Lady Warriors began the second half on an 8-2 run to regain the lead. Once it took a 34-31 advantage, they pushed ahead by as many as 10 points early in the fourth until Tupelo made its final run. After the string of foul-outs, the Lady Wave cut the lead to 47-46 with two minutes to go, but free throws from Harvey and Durr, and solid defense, sealed the win.
The Lady Warriors and Murrah will meet Wednesday at the Mississippi Coliseum in second of two 6A Semifinal games. The opening tip is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Pearl and Starkville will play in the other semifinal contest, which begins at 4 p.m.
“We’ve had one or two players play well at times, but we haven’t all clicked,” Swindle said. “We can score, we can play better. I think if all five, six, seven of us get going, you never know what’s going to happen.”