Hernando’s first visit to the girls’ state basketball tournament since 1984 came four points short of being extended for another four quarters in a state championship game.
However, the Terry Lady Bulldogs decided they wanted to extend their stay instead and used clutch shooting and strong work on the boards to claim a 48-44 MHSAA 6A state semifinal victory at Mississippi Coliseum Thursday afternoon.
Hernando finished the season with a record of 26-7, while Terry heads to Saturday’s state title game with a 26-8 mark to play against Pearl (30-1), a 57-39 winner over previously unbeaten Greenville in the second semi-final game played Thursday afternoon.
The Lady Tigers held a 12-11 lead after one quarter, however, Terry built a 26-19 bulge to halftime by holding Hernando to just seven points in the quarter. Hernando would chip away at that margin in the second half, but each run the Lady Tigers made was stopped by the Lady Bulldogs, in particular their 41-30 advantage in rebounding.
“Every single time we made a run they would get an offensive rebound and stick it back in or we would foul and they would get an offensive rebound off a free throw,” said Hernando coach Daniel Forbes. “The whole thing going into the game was that if we won the rebound game we win the game. We did not win the rebounding game tonight.”
Terry out rebounded the Lady Tigers on the offensive glass by a 15-7 margin.
Nakeyvia McKinzie finished her Hernando high school career with a team-high 15 points. Zuri Dunlap finished with 12 points and Nicole Wolfe also scored in double figures with 11 points. Wolfe and Dunlap played every minute of their final high school basketball game.
They were joined by Hailey Rowe and Keyunna Neely as the senior quintet that brought Hernando back to the Big House for the first time since Reagan led the nation.
“They did everything I asked them to do and they were great teammates,” Forbes said. “We’re going to miss those five seniors for sure.”
Ayani Cockrell of Terry led all scorers with 18 points and was the Lady Bulldogs’ only player in double figures.
Despite the loss, Forbes pointed to a lot of success from his charges this year.
“They accomplished more than everybody before them,” he said. “They have every right to be proud of this season.”
Friday night, DeSoto County’s Olive Branch and Center Hill high school teams are in action in 5A state championship games. Olive Branch plays undefeated West Jones for the girls’ state title and the Center Hill boys meet Olive Branch for the fourth time this year, this time in the state boys’ title tilt.
HUSTLE HOST CLIPPERS: The Memphis Hustle hosts the top team in the NBA G League’s Western Conference Santa Cruz Warriors Friday night in the first of an important two-game home stand. Memphis enters Friday’s game in a virtual three-way time for the final playoff spot in the conference with a 23-21 record. Agua Caliente, at 22-20, is actually one-percentage point ahead, but the Clippers, Salt Lake City and the Hustle are all 7.5 games behind front-running Santa Cruz.
Memphis entered Friday’s game after a 110-94 loss at Salt Lake City Wednesday night. Dusty Hannahs led the Hustle in scoring with 20 points, 11 of which came in the first quarter.
Monday, Memphis meets Sioux Falls in another crucial contest at the Landers Center. Both games start at 7 p.m.
SPORTS ETC.: In Thursday baseball, Olive Branch scored four times in the sixth for a 4-2 win over Lafayette and Lewisburg out slugged Southaven 7-2. DeSoto Central lost its first two games of the season playing in the Perfect Game Showdown at Hoover, Alabama. The Jaguars lost to Buford, Georgia 4-3 after a 3-2 loss to Cullman, Alabama. Also Thursday, Lake Cormorant scored nine times in the first inning and eight more in the six for a 19-3 win over Independence.
On Wednesday, Horn Lake defeated Lake Cormorant 7-4 Wednesday with a four-run sixth inning. Sam Fountain and Jalon Wright each drove in two RBIs for the Eagles. South Panola beat Southaven 8-2 and it was Oxford over Lewisburg 12-8.
Among softball scores from Thursday, Lewisburg defeated Hernando 2-0.
TYSON NAMED SOCCER ALL-STAR: Magnolia Heights soccer player Josh Tyson was named to the MAIS boys’ all-star soccer team, which played its game Thursday at Jackson Prep in Flowood. Tyson played several positions, including goalkeeper, over his career and competed in every game from seventh-grade to his senior year. He was a first-team all-district pick this season.
CHIP SHOTS: North Creek Golf Club hosts a four-person season kickoff event Saturday, March 23 at the Southaven course. The 18-hole event will have a 1 p.m. shotgun start. For more information, call the pro shop at 662-280-4653.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.