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September 30/October 7

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Houston girls advance to Tennessee AAA semifinals

image and article from Commercial Appeal






Fake news. Alternate facts. In a world where the truth isn't as necessarily cut-and-dried, here's another perception that's taking a beating: Memphis girls basketball teams can't compete with their eastern and mid-state counterparts.

Houston advanced to the AAA semifinals Wednesday, surviving a cold-shooting, foul-filled game against Clarksville to win 58-45 at the Murphy Center. That puts the Mustangs (28-3) in Friday's 11:30 p.m. semifinal against defending state champion Murfreesboro Riverdale, which is ranked No. 1 in this week's USA TODAY rankings.

They'll be joined in the semis by Central, which eliminated Oak Ridge earlier. Both Houston and Central represent Region 8 and Mustangs coach Ben Moore said Wednesday's results definitely made a statement.

"I think you look at our region; we played Hamilton, White Station and Central in the region tournament," he said. "And White Station was fantastic all season. I think there were three or four teams from our region that could have made it to state and made a little run."


Instead it will be Houston moving on after winning the first state tournament game in school history. The Mustangs' only other appearance came in 2014 when they lost to Blackman in the quarters.

This one was a battle from the get-go. Houston won despite shooting just 37 percent from the floor and was certainly helped by the fact that Clarksville was even worse (26.7 percent, 3 of 15 on 3s). The only reason the Wildcats stayed within striking distance until the fourth quarter was excellent free-throw shooting; they shot 18 of 19 from the line.

"Survive and advance, that's kind of been our mantra the last couple of weeks," said Moore, who is in his first season at Houston. "We're happy to still be playing."

Jayla Hemingway, a Miss Basketball finalist who led Houston with 14 points, said her young team's first appearance on the big stage was a factor.

"I think we were nervous, kind of shellshocked at first," she said. "But our team is very close, like a family, and we were (eventually) able to get each other pumped up."

Hemingway — herself a sophomore — got plenty of help from freshman Destinee Wells, who finished with 13, and sophomore Madison Griggs, who hit a pair of 3-pointers to finish with 10. Houston never trailed after Griggs connected from the top of the key with 41 seconds left in the first half, giving the Mustangs a 26-24 lead at the break.

Hannah Goins scored 12 points to lead Clarksville (27-6), which finished in third place in the District 10 tournament before surprising many by winning the Region 5 tourney.

Clarksville (45) — Ellie Treanton 4, Deja Walls 7, Judy Cummings 8, Ailyah Miller 7, Lainey Persinger 2, Hannah Goins 12, Taylor Adkins 5.

Houston (58) — Melisa Carter 4, Shaela Gardner 7, Madison Griggs 10, Jayla Hemingway 14, Sammiyah Hoskin 3, Rochelle Lee 4, Shannon Sharp 3, Destinee Wells 13.

OLIVE BRANCH ADVANCES TO FINAL

Despite a rare off night from senior star Myah Taylor, Olive Branch will be playing in its third MHSAA 6A state championship game in the last four years.

The Quistors (31-1) forced 22 turnovers and dominated on the glass in a 61-47 victory over Jackson Murrah at the Jackson Coliseum. The victory sends Olive Branch — ranked 19th in the nation according to USA Today — into Saturday's 6 p.m. championship game.

Mahogany Vaught had 23 to lead Olive Branch. Katie Blackmon grabbed 21 rebounds and almost out-rebounded Murrah by herself; Olive Branch won that battle 44-22.

Taylor, a Mississippi State signee and two-time Best of the Preps player of the year, had 12 on just 4 of 17 shooting. Olive Branch rallied in the second half after trailing 26-21 at halftime.

"I don't have to score because I know my teammates have my back," she told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. "I continued to encourage my teammates that the game wasn't over and you see what the results were."

Murrah (45) — Jessica Almons 9, Regina Sampson 3, Keimoya Walker 15, Kasey Bradford 8, Nya Irvin 2, Zephorah Jones 8.

Olive Branch (62) — Katie Blackmon 11, En’dya Buford 10, Marika Owens 4, Sarena Shipp 2, Myah Taylor 12, Mahogany Vaught 23.

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