By Thomas Sellers Jr.
When mixing in a new lineup, a season can be filled with ups and downs.
The story of the 2013-14 Munford Lady Cougars was summarized in their final game during the Region 7-3A Girls Basketball Tournament last week. The Lady Cougars traveled to the Bolton Gymnasium for the semifinal contest against the host Bolton Lady Wildcats.
After jumping out to an early lead, Munford suffered a second-quarter drought being outscored 13-5. Lady Wildcat standout Charity Savage paced Bolton the rest of the game with 34 points leading to a 54-47 win.
“All year long, we’ve had spells to where we just couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Munford Head Coach Steve Poindexter said. “Unfortunately tonight when that happened, our defense fell apart at the same time.
“We dug ourselves too big of a hole,” he continued. “I applaud their effort. I thought that group there near the end of the fourth quarter, I thought they played really hard. I told them that in there, ‘I appreciate you fighting and playing until the horn went off.’ But if you get stops there in the second quarter, instead of cutting to five, your tied. I just think defensively we weren’t tough enough, we weren’t physical enough. We got killed on the boards.”
Munford was getting rebounds early in the game with Alex Wherry scoring on two put-back buckets to give the Lady Cougars a 6-3 advantage. The Lady Cougars led 8-7 after one quarter.
Savage gave Bolton the lead at 9-8 in the opening moments of the second quarter with a put-back basket of her own. Munford junior guard Precious Mills nailed a three-pointer to regain the lead for the Lady Cougars at 11-9.
The Lady Wildcats responded with a 10-0 run with Savage scoring six points in that spend. Savage’s final basket of the period made the halftime score 21-12.
“We let their best player do whatever she wanted to do,” Poindexter said. “We spent three days game-planning and we just didn’t execute.”
Bolton build its lead to 36-24 by the end of the third quarter with Savage scoring baskets, grabbing rebounds sparking fast breaks and assisting to teammates like Heaven Thompson.
Savage made the score 33-21 when she drove to the basket and made a layup drawing a foul. Her free throw completed the three-point play.
With Bolton ahead 36-21, Wherry knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer. Her teammate Shania Johnson added to the run Wherry started with a couple of layups. The score was 40-29 early in the fourth quarter.
Later Johnson made a steal leading to Mills making a layup to cut the Bolton lead to 44-35.
Savage put Bolton up 50-39 with a pair of foul shots. Wherry sparked Munford’s final run of the night with a jumper. The Lady Cougars went on a 6-0 run to make the score 50-45 with 33 seconds remaining.
The Lady Wildcats were able to hold the Lady Cougars with free throws to advance to the Region championship game against Dyer County. Bolton was guaranteed a spot in the Sub-State round.
The season came to end for the Lady Cougars. The program will graduate one senior Kierra Webb, who missed the season because of a knee injury.
“What we talked about in there was consistency,” Poindexter said. “‘Are you winning everyday at practice? Do you come focused everyday, getting better in practice?’ I think we showed a lot of inconsistency throughout the year.
“You look at our schedule, we’ve beat some teams pretty good,” he added. “We’ve lost to some teams not very good. It’s kind of been a roller coaster ride. But it’s been that way in practice on a daily basis. If you want it to be different, you guys have to change what you’re doing. You have to come to practice everyday no matter it’s November, December or January. You can’t turn it on come tournament time. You’re not doing those things early and consistently, you’re not going to be ready for those situation. I think its a lesson that can be learned for this group.”