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Clutch shooting lifts Heidelberg ladies to title

By By Rocky Higginbotham/The Meridian Star
Feb. 4, 2001
DECATUR With all the flying bodies, the girls' championship game of the MPSA Academy 3-A District Tournament looked more like a football game at times.
But in the end, it was still a little clutch shooting that proved to be the difference.
Top-seeded Heidelberg Academy used a pair of 3-pointers to swing the momentum its way, and the Lady Rebels got clutch free-throw shooting from Ashley McInnis in a 56-47 win over Central Academy.
In Saturday's other girls' contest at Newton County Academy, Sylva-Bay knocked off Kemper Academy 63-53 in the consolation game.
All four teams advance to the Mississippi Private School Association's Class A Central Region Tournament, which begins Tuesday at University Christian School in Flowood.
Heidelberg Academy 56, Central Academy 47: The game was nip-and-tuck throughout, but McInnis' free throws and the two 3-pointers proved the difference.
Heidelberg was up 38-36 when Courtney Harrington hit nothing but net on a 40-footer at the third-quarter buzzer. Fifteen seconds later, the Lady Rebels got an off-balance 3-pointer from Shanna Thornton, and a two-point edge had quickly grown to eight.
Central got within four points on a couple of occasions, the last time at 48-44 on a basket by freshman Olivia Reed with just 1:28 left in the game. But McInnis nailed four straight freebies in a span of seven-tenths of a second, and Heidelberg was on its way to the division crown.
McInnis didn't hit a shot from the field, but led her team's balanced attack with 13-of-15 shooting from the free-throw line.
Heidelberg, now 14-11, also got 10 points and nine rebounds from Suzanne Lightsey, 10 points from Courtney Harrington, nine points from Joanna Shoemaker, seven points and seven rebounds from Thornton and seven points from Katie Barnett.
Central fell to 17-17 on the season despite game-highs of 19 points, 20 rebounds and four steals from Meagan Stokes. Mary Margaret McClure added 10 points and 10 rebounds and Carrie Coker scored seven points.
Sylva-Bay Academy 63, Kemper Academy 53: The Lady Saints whipped Kemper 41-31 on the boards and got 20 points, nine rebounds and four steals from Amber Carlisle.
Sylva-Bay, which captured third place with the win, improved to 20-11. Kemper Academy fell to 14-15.
Lauren Husbands added 16 points and eight boards for the Lady Saints, Ashley Green scored 13 points and Ingrid Norvell had 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
Kemper was led by Jen Myers' 17 points, while Alicia Dufour scored 11 and Jessica Harpole had 10 points and five assists. Megan Whitaker had a team-high 10 rebounds and Blair Johnson eight boards and five steals.
The Lady Rams led 23-22 at halftime, but Sylva-Bay heated up offensively in the third, when Husbands hit a trio of 3-pointers and Carlisle scored the final five points of the quarter to give SBA the lead for good.
All-Tournament Team: Four players from Heidelberg, three from Central, two from Sylva-Bay and one from Kemper made up the All-District 3-A Tournament Team.
Harrington, Lightsey, Thornton and McInnis headed the squad, for Heidelberg, while Central was represented by Stokes, McClure and Leslie Hancock. Norvell and Carlisle were SBA's representatives, while KA's Dufour rounded out the squad.
Rocky Higginbotham is the sports editor of The Meridian Star. E-mail him at rhigginbotham@themeridianstar.com.

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