By Thomas Sellers Jr.
As the Brighton Lady Cardinals entered the 2016-17 basketball season the expectations were modest for them in District 13-3A.
When the Lady Cardinals opened district play losing to Dyer County and Munford in close contest, many area basketball experts were ready to hand out green ribbons to Brighton.
But Lady Cardinal Head Coach David Wampler still had his sights set on the Blue Ribbon for first place in the league. When Brighton ended it’s six-year district winless streak Jan. 20 against Hardin County, Wampler’s vision started to come to fruition.
Next up was Friday night’s challenge of traditional league power Dyer County. The rematch was another thriller with the Lady Cardinals coming out on top 74-72 courtesy of a Lindsey Morrissett game-winning jumper.
“I’m speechless,” the senior forward said. “I’m still shaking.”
The bleachers in the Brighton Gymnasium were still bouncing after Morrissett hit the jumper with less than 10 seconds remaining in the contest.
The road toward Morrissett’s moment started with the Lady Cardinals jumping out to a 21-19 lead in the first quarter. Brighton sophomore guard T. Brown was the offensive start during that stretch with four lay-ups. Her fourth basket of the opening quarter led to a three-point play and 13-8 Brighton advantage.
Other Lady Cardinals contributing to the 21 points were MG Smith, Kailey Hunt and Aubree Jones.
After a Smith layup made the score 23-19 early in the second quarter, Dyer County responded with a 9-2 run to take the lead at 28-25.
The Lady Choctaws kept up the fast pace and hot outside shooting to take a 42-34 lead at halftime. Dyer County’s advantage grew to 45-34 in the third quarter.
“No way they can have the second one,” Morrissett said. “Especially not at our place. We started to play defense.”
Brighton outscored Dyer County 19-12 the rest of period to trim the Lady Choctaws’ lead to 57-53.
Dyer County tried to maintain their advantage in the fourth quarter but the Lady Cardinals finally tied the contest at 66-66 when Brown hit a pair of foul shots.
“We can do it,” Morrissett said was the mindset. “We can win back-to-back district games.”
Moments later Brown hit a jumper in the lane to make the score 68-66. The Lady Choctaws regained the lead with a three-pointer.
With a minute and 5 seconds remaining Brighton captured the lead again when Smith made both of her free throw attempts.
The game was tied at 70-70 with 51.2 second left. It was time for Smith to step up again making a layup in the lane giving Brighton the 72-70 lead.
Once again the game was deadlock at 72-72 with 30 seconds left. With the second ticking away and possession of the ball, the Lady Cardinals located Morrissett.
The senior calmly stepped into her baseline jumper hitting nothing but net. The score was 74-72 with less than 10 seconds remaining.
The Lady Choctaws had three attempts to tie the game but the ball bounced off the rim. Brighton had the historic win, first over Dyer County.
And the victory also kept Brighton’s hopes alive for the regular-season championship.
“They will know when they hear Brighton, we’re here to play basketball,” Morrissett said. “We came to play basketball. It’s something new.
“We have to keep doing the same thing we’ve been saying all year ‘One heartbeat,’” she concluded. “That’s what we always say and all we do everyday.”