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Pace Makers: Central dictates the tempo leading to Munford demise

By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MLS-03-09-Munford Basketball Johnna Jones Munford Gabby Crawford Munford Johnna Mason Munford Kennisha Mason Munford Shania JohnsonWinning the 2017 Region 7-3A Girls Basketball Tournament last week already made the Munford Lady Cougars’ season memorable.
The 56-47 domination of the Arlington Lady Tigers in the Brighton Gymnasium earned Munford a berth in Saturday’s Sectional Round as a host.
Lady Cougar standout Gabby Crawford came into the Sub-State match up against the Memphis Central Lady Warriors hot off a double-double of 25 points and 20 rebounds to beat Arlington.
Crawford reached double digits in scoring against Central with 10 points but it wasn’t enough to help Munford advance to this week’s Class 3A State Tournament in Murfreesboro. The Lady Warriors earned that honor winning 54-29.
“Going into the game, we knew we had to control the pace of the game,” Munford Head Coach Steve Poindexter said. “And we made shots in the first half and got by with some things. I never thought we played at the pace we needed to play at in order to beat this team. We had to slow the pace down. Now in the first half, we didn’t turn the ball over. We made some shots.
“But in the second half, I don’t know a possession we ran our offense at all,” he added. “They took us out of everything we wanted to do.”
The Lady Cougars jumped ahead 8-5 in the first quarter behind three-pointers from Shania “Maine Girl” Johnson and Johnna Jones. After a Crawford jumper, the Lady Cougars were ahead 10-7.
Central closed out the first quarter with the final four points to lead 11-10. Munford outscored the Lady Warriors 8-6 to regain the advantage by halftime. Jones and Crawford traded the buckets for Munford in that period.
Munford’s lead grew to 21-17 early in the third quarter after an Ali Gover three-pointer. Then the Lady Warriors seized control of the game with a 19-6 run to close out the third quarter.
Central’s 36-27 lead grew to 54-29 by the end of the game sending the Cougar faithful home sad from the Munford Gymnasium.
“Fatigue set in and we weren’t able to pressure them enough and we didn’t run our offense,” Poindexter said. “We got out of character offensively.”
With the injuries and a bench full of youth, the Lady Cougars mainly played five players during the postseason run.
The core of the lineup was junior Crawford and seniors Johnson and Jones. Munford’s “Big Three” helped the Lady Cougars go 26-7 and reach the school’s second Sub-State.
“We dealt with quite a bit of adversity,” Poindexter said. “We started the season without one of our best players. We played the whole season without her. We’re even playing this game without another one. So we were two starters down. To make it this point with what we had to deal with, I thought was an accomplishment,
“You get to this game, you want to win this game,” he concluded. “So there is an obvious disappointment. But I think looking back at this season, there will be a whole lot more to be proud of.”

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