Thursday, March 1, 2012

Horn Lake girls fall 58-46 in state basketball semifinals

image and article from

Horn Lake Eagle head coach Janna Lyons glances toward the scoreboard as she leads disappointed team members off the court following their 58-46 lose to Forest Hill High School in semifinal action in the MHSAA Class 6A state tournament at Jackson's Mississippi Coliseum.

Between turnovers and foul trouble, a fourth consecutive appearance at the Mississippi High School Activities Association state tournament didn’t go as expected Wednesday for the Horn Lake girls basketball team.

Forest Hill took advantage of 28 Lady Eagle turnovers to escape the Mississippi Coliseum with a 58-46 victory in the Class 6A semifinals. The Lady Patriots, who received a game-high 24 points from junior Essence Pulliam, advanced to Saturday’s championship against Southaven or Hattiesburg.

Horn Lake concludes its season at 26-5.

“I knew coming into this that I was at the mercy of a freshman point guard, which can sometimes be tricky,” said Lady Eagles coach Janna Lyons, “but anytime you have 17 turnovers from your main ballhandlers, it’s tough to win any game, let alone one of this caliber. Forest Hill is a very strong team and they did an excellent job.”

Lyons watched as senior Savannah Kimmons picked up her third foul at the 2:48 mark of the second period. When the 6-foot-2 center returned to action, Forest Hill was ready to put the clamps on her immediately. Kimmons’ only second-half basket was scored late in the fourth quarter.

“We just planned to double the whole time,” Lady Patriot coach Tangela Banks said. “Play the 1-2-2 — just try to box out and always keep somebody in front of her. That was our game plan. We knew she was a good player, so all we wanted to do was just try to keep the ball out of her hands.”

Kimmons finished with six points and a team-high five rebounds.

“It’s tough,” said Lyons, “because the few minutes that you do prepare for that in practice, it seems a bit unrealistic. There’s a presence that the girls are used to ... it’s something that you can’t really plan for.”

Helping out the stat sheet for Pulliam was a perfect 10-for-10 performance from the free-throw line. For the game, Forest Hill was 20-for-26, including seven clutch makes from junior Claresa Banks down the stretch.

“I keep them telling them, ‘Free throws win a ball game for you,’ ” said Banks. “I like to condition them real well and then put them on the line for those free throws, because it’s a game-type situation. They did very well.”

Doing their best to help Horn Lake hang around was junior Brittany Grant and senior Jasmine Edwards, who combined to knock down four 3-pointers. Grant led the Lady Eagles with 11 points, while Edwards and freshman Alondrea Rush had eight and nine points, respectively.

“We just didn’t take care of the ball,” Lyons said. “Then we even missed some baskets and some followups that we should’ve had.”

The Lady Eagles lost in the semis in 2009, before winning it all in 2010. Last year they lost the title game to Northwest Rankin.

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