By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — Some new coaches have to wait a while before collecting win No. 1.
Although new Brighton Lady Cardinals Head Coach Tiffany Porter earned her first victory in game one, she still had to wait.
Porter’s Lady Cardinals battled the Memphis Catholic Lady Chargers in the season opener to double overtime before prevailing 71-63.
“It’s exciting — it’s exciting to see them fight,” Porter said of her first Brighton win. “I’ve been preaching that to them since day one. We’re going to fight no matter how many points we’re down. We’re going to keep fighting no matter what. Our big thing is, as long as we keep confidence and keep fighting.”
The fight started on the moist court of the Memphis Catholic Gymnasium Nov. 17 with the host Lady Chargers taking a 15-10 lead after one quarter.
Catholic came out hot in the second quarter going on a 13-5 run to build a 13-point lead. That was when Porter made her first major on-the-court move as Brighton’s leader.
“I subbed in five at a time because my first five were not playing defense like I needed them,” she said. “And they sparked us in the second quarter. It led onto the third quarter.”
The change sparked the Lady Cardinals and when the starters returned to the floor Brighton rallied.
The Lady Cardinals outscored Catholic to transform the scoreboard from 28-15 to 30-27.
Brighton’s Danielle Collins scored 11 point during that stretch with a pair of triples and a three-point play. Catholic maintain the advantage and led 33-27 at the break.
The third quarter has become the make-it or break-it period for Brighton. On this night the Lady Cardinals matched Catholic play for play.
Brighton outscored the Lady Chargers 9-5 in the quarter to cut the deficit to 38-36. But before the fourth quarter started, Porter had to substitute a new player into the game for Collins who went down with an ankle injury.
“I’m just glad they fought through that adversity,” Porter said. “In the past, they would have dropped their head and it may have been worse than that. But I teach them to fight and I’m going to continue to them that.
“Taliyah Brown, only a freshman, is a name you need to remember,” she continued. “She’s going to be special. She’s one of these point guard who hasn’t really come into her own yet. She doesn’t even really know her own talents yet. But we’re going to get it out of her. She’s a special kid. When Danielle went out she stepped up big time. I’m really proud of her.”
Brown replaced Collins at the point guard spot and got teammates like Shayna Johnson, Makayla Rose and Lindsey Morrissett involved. When Rose drove to the rim and hit a layup, the Lady Cardinals were ahead 47-42 late in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Chargers outscored Brighton 6-1 down the stretch of regulation to force overtime at 48-48.
Both teams managed to score 7 points in the first extra session. Brighton’s Onyx Magno tied the game at 55-55 with a free throw.
In the second overtime Brown took over by drawing fouls. The freshman stepped to the line and made 7 of 8 free throws to give the Lady Cardinals a 62-57 advantage.
Ahead 62-59, Morrissett made a pair of foul shots to make the tally 64-59. Catholic cut the deficit to three points once again at 64-61.
Brown stepped to the line this time and made the shots. Behind 66-61, the Lady Chargers made the score 66-63. That would be the final points for Catholic on the night.
Rose made another move to the basket for a layup to spark Brighton to a 5-0 run to win Porter’s debut.
“Team bond — get to know your teammates and love your teammates,” Porter concluded. “You may not like the person outside of the gym. But inside these lines, you’re going to love one another and fight for one another. Fight for yourselves, fight for one another and fight for your coaches, they came out strong tonight. I appreciate them and I’m extremely proud.”