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Lady Hornets move on

By Tim Doherty

Special to the Item

BROOKLYN — It’s not how you start, but how you finish.

Just ask the Poplarville High School girls basketball team.

After ringing up nearly twice as many turnovers (11) as points (six) in the first quarter of their Region 8-4A tournament game against Forrest County Agricultural High School, the Lady Hornets settled down and dominated the second half to grab a 58-42 victory over the Lady Aggies Monday evening.

“We came out flat,” Poplarville coach Annette Smith said. “We’ve got to come out more enthusiastic than that.

“But after a little while, we were able to get going.”

Poplarville (21-6) will play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Quitman in the Class 4A playoffs.

“It doesn’t matter ,” Smith said. “You’ve got to play the best to be the best. It’s going to be tough from here on out, no matter who you’re playing.”

FCAHS (14-10) will visit Northeast Lauderdale at 6 p.m. today.

“I was really disappointed in our defensive effort, especially coming off the such a good defensive effort against Pass Christian Saturday,” FCAHS coach Michael Thornton said. “Our interior defense was horrible, and they just took it to us, particularly in the second half and especially in the fourth quarter.”

That’s when the Lady Hornets’ 1-2 post punch — center Bretta Hart and forward Daiquari Raine — took over.

The duo combined for 37 points, including 22 of the Lady Hornets’ 30 second-half points.

Hart scored a team-high 19 points, despite foul trouble that sent her to the bench for much of the second quarter. Raine picked up the slack, scoring of her 18 points in the second period, as Poplarville rallied from a 13-7 first-quarter deficit.

FCAHS forward Teanna Anthony, who scored a team-high 19 points, helped the Lady Aggies build an eight-point lead at 17-9. Her steal and layin still had FCAHS up 21-14 with 4 minutes, 29 seconds before the half.

But Poplarville closed the half on a 14-3 run. A 5-0 spurt — with Raine scoring four — got the Lady Hornets within 21-19.

Christy Windham’s driving basket gave the Lady Aggies a four-point lead, but two free throws apiece by Kendra Hall and Demi Beason tied the game 23-23 with 1:02 seconds to play in the half.

Hart gave the Lady Hornets’ their first lead with a follow-up basket with 36.4 seconds left, and Hall swished a 3-pointer to put Poplarville up five about 16 seconds later.

Kimberly Clemts’ free throw made the score 28-24 at halftime.

Thornton bemoaned the points the Lady Aggies left on the court.

“We didn’t shoot but about 50 percent from the free-throw line,” Thornton said.

After Raine’s basket built Poplarville’s lead back to six, the Lady Aggies tied the score 30-30 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Anthony and Jennifer Davis. Beason and Anthony swapped buckets again for a 32-32 tie. But Raine, Hart and Beason all scored to rebuild the Poplarville lead back to six, and the Lady Hornets ended the third quarter up by 40-36.

The fourth quarter was all Lady Hornets. Low-post baskets by Raine and Hart bumped the lead to eight, the Lady Aggies never got closer than seven points, as Poplarville ended the game on 14-5 run.

Beason backed Hart and Raine with 13 points and Hall added nine, as four players scored all of the Lady Hornets’ points.

Clemts had 11 points for the Lady Aggies, including nine of FCAHS’ 13, first-quarter points.