By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — Three years ago, then new Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebel Head Coach Shari Armour stood in the lobby of the Memphis Catholic Gymnasium chatting longtime Rebel supporters about the game her team just lost.
Despite losing by double figures, several Rebel faithful told Armour they saw progression in the players. Fast forward to last Thursday night, Armour was all smiles sitting in the stands of the Catholic Gym after her team’s 42-39 victory.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but tonight we brought it all together,” she said. “My players have grown tremendously.
“We’re starting to learn the game a little bit better,” Armour continued. “We’re starting to know where to move, what passes to make and recognize who their top players are. So we can put a hand in their face or push them out of the paint when we need to.”
It took a few minutes for the Lady Rebels to identify the Lady Chargers to pay special attention. Catholic lead 8-4 after the first quarter. And the Lady Rebels trimmed that deficit in half outscoring the Lady Chargers 7-5 in the second quarter.
Then the Lady Rebels came out hot in the third quarter behind the shooting of Taylor Beasley and all-around play of Alexa Crum.
Clearly an undersize big, Crum played the four and five positions throughout the night drawing fouls on the Catholic interior players. Crum was also able make foul shots during TRA’s outburst.
Armour noted Crum is a clear example of a player who has matured in the game of basketball over the past three years.
Catholic was ahead 19-13 early in the third quarter. Then Beasley hit a triple to spark the Lady Rebels.
“We went on a 19-8 run adjusting and beating their press,” Armour noted. “They went Man there for a little bit. We were able to get those fast break layup quickly. Then keeping our composure. We did a better job of that tonight than we’ve done in the past and the past few games.”
TRA senior guard Virginia Moore was able to break Catholic’s press for a jumper to make the tally 19-18. After a Lady Charger basket, Crum cut the Catholic lead to 21-19.
The Lady Rebels took the lead when Bethany Berger drained a three-pointer to make the score 22-12. TRA’s advantage grew to 26-21 with another Beasley trey.
Brooke Bridges put TRA ahead 28-21 with a layup. The Lady Rebels were ahead 30-21 at the end of the period when Beasley drove to the rim for a bucket.
The Lady Rebels’ lead grew to double figures when senior Sarah Hall hit a runner from baseline to make the tally 34-24.
But the Lady Chargers had one more rally left in them. Catholic went on a 15-8 run to pull within a basket with 20 seconds remaining.
TRA guards Moore and Berger were able to burn the clock down to 7 seconds getting the ball to Beasley. After Beasley made a foul shot to put TRA ahead 3 points, the Lady Rebels’ defense close out the victory.
The Lady Rebels moved onto the postseason as a fifth seed in their league. TRA had to travel to open up the playoffs.
“You’ve just to be motivated,” Armour concluded. “It’s internal. Any coach, you can tell them the game plan and you can tell them what to do, but what it comes down to is who is going to be the best player on the floor. Who is going to have the heart? Who is going to put in the effort? Who is going to have the ability to go after it and get it?”