|Aysha Harris (right), who scored 13 points Wednesday night, battles Ridgeway’s Alexus Bryson for a loose ball during the fourth quarter action of the Region 8-AAA girls championship game at Central High School.|
Jaida Roper and Aysha Harris weren’t going to dwell on the little details — like the way they managed to score in double figures, or that their extremities were still in one piece.
All the two Houston stars had to do was look at the plaque that proclaimed them Region 8-AAA girls basketball champions after the Mustangs eked out a 36-27 alley fight with district rival Ridgeway on Wednesday night at Central.
The Mustangs (27-7), who hadn’t won a regional title since the middle of the Sarah Watkins era nearly a decade ago, will be at home Saturday to face Dyer County for a berth in next week’s state tournament at Murfreesboro. Ridgeway (28-4), which spent much of the regular season atop The Commercial Appeal’s Dandy Dozen poll, will play its substate game at Region 7 champion Bolton.
Roper took charge late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, scoring seven straight points to open a 26-18 lead. It started with a 3-pointer off a drive and dish by Harris.
“A game like this against someone you know really well always has a feeling-out process. It was hard getting an opening, but the coach told me to keep shooting and after that 3, I felt better,” said Roper, who finished with 11 points.
Harris, whose two 3-pointers were her team’s lone first-quarter scores, hit 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to finish with 13 points and earn MVP honors. The Mustangs were 12 of 14 from the line for the game and 8 of 10 in the final period.
“The free throws pulled us through again,” said Harris, who will play for West Georgia next year. “But when we took the lead (16-15 on her two free throws with 1:24 left in the first half) we weren’t going to let that go.”
Ridgeway, which lost 43-42 to Houston in the district final, dominated early. The Roadrunners blocked four Houston shots in the opening quarter and took a 14-6 lead on a three-point play by Tierany Paylor to open the second.
After that, Houston went into a zone and dared Ridgeway to fire long. “We stopped chasing them all over the floor,” Roper said.
And the Roadrunners misfired, scoring just 13 points the rest of the game. Ashley Jackson was the lone Ridgeway player in double figures with 10 points.
Other girls regional finals
Region 7-AAA at Bolton: Sophomores Charity Savage and Kerrice Watson each scored 22 points and carried host Bolton to a 67-59 win over Dyer County in the championship game. The Wildcats scored 20 points each in the second and third quarters to ease past the Choctaws.
Region 8-AA at Fairley: LeShaundra Somerville had 21 points, and Precious Harvey and Janekia Mason chipped in 13 apiece as the Chargers (26-7) bolted to a 22-8 first-quarter lead on Jackson Northside in a 66-40 romp to the title.
Region 8-A at Mitchell: Jackson Christian scored a 57-50 victory over Middleton for the title.