Lady Eagles run table in conference

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 8, 2002

[02/08/02]ST. JOSEPH, La. The Porters Chapel Academy Lady Eagles withstood Tensas Academy’s best punch Thursday night and escaped from St. Joseph with their dynasty intact.

Tensas (13-10, 8-2 Conference 7-A) rallied from a 16-point deficit in the third quarter, but PCA’s K.K. Willis hit four free throws in the last 24 seconds to give the Lady Eagles a 51-48 win and their sixth straight conference championship.

With the win, PCA (19-9, 10-0) averted a one-game playoff for the conference title with Tensas and earned a bye in the first round of the South State tournament, which begins Monday in Natchez.

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The Lady Eagles also ran their regular-season conference winning streak to 56 games, a streak that dates back to 1997.

“I’m real proud of these girls. They deserve it. They’ve worked hard for it,” PCA coach Mitchell Willis said. “I feel like the pressure is off now, because this is what I really wanted for them. The rest of the way we’ll take it one game at a time.”

Tensas, meanwhile, will be the No. 2 seed from Conference 7-A and will have to win at least two games to advance to the Academy-A state tournament.

“The only problem is we’ll be playing a pretty good team in the second round, and it is an elimination round,” Tensas coach Allen Crigler said.

Brady Willis led PCA with a game-high 20 points, K.K. Willis had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Kayla Barnette scored nine.

Bonye Sanderson led Tensas with 14 points, Shelby Alford had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Sarah Vizard had seven points and nine rebounds despite missing most of the second quarter because of a bloody nose.

Tensas took an early lead, but Brady Willis scored 12 points in the second quarter and the Lady Eagles hit three 3-pointers in the last three minutes of the half to key take a 26-19 halftime lead.

“We were nervous and then we came alive,” said Barnette, who had a pair of 3-pointers in the run.

PCA opened the third quarter with an 11-2 run to make it 37-21 with 4:43 to play in the third, but let Tensas back in the game.

Using tough defense and clutch shooting, the Lady Chiefs went on a 19-4 tear to cut it to 41-40 with just under four minutes to play.

The teams traded baskets for the next three minutes, until Vizard finally gave Tensas the lead, 48-47, on a putback basket with 40 seconds to play.

On PCA’s ensuing possession, K.K. Willis was fouled under the basket and hit both free throws to put the Lady Eagles back in front. The Lady Chiefs quickly pushed the ball back up the floor, but Vizard was called for traveling.

Brady Willis was fouled on the inbounds pass, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 10.8 seconds left. Tensas grabbed the rebound and got the ball to Lyndsay Hendrix on the baseline, but she missed from 10 feet. K.K. Willis grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and sank both free throws.

“I was nervous, but after I made the first one, I knew we got it,” K.K. Willis said.

Sanderson missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.

(B) Tensas 78, PCA 52

David Crigler led four Tensas players in double figures with a game-high 21 points and added five assists as the Chiefs (10-6, 7-3) pulled away in the second half and handed PCA (4-17, 2-8) a season-ending loss.

Joseph Ivey and Tyler Ellis each had 15 points for PCA, Andrew Embry added 14 and Ryan Hoben grabbed 11 rebounds. Scott Crigler had 15 points, five assists and four steals for Tensas, while Lee Hale had 14 points and eight rebounds and Patrick Keahey had 10 points.

Hoben’s 3-pointer at the second-quarter buzzer was followed by an 8-2 run to start the second half and cut Tensas’ lead to 43-37. But the Chiefs quickly got back on track, answering PCA’s spurt with an 8-2 run to push the lead back to 51-39, and they were never threatened again.

“I told the boys, with a season like this, you have to find consolations,” PCA coach Roger Browning said. “We were in 17 games that we lost in the fourth quarter, so there’s been some major improvement. We just have to find a way to win.”

Tensas will play River Oaks in a one-game playoff tonight to determine the No. 2 seed from Conference 7-A in the South State tournament.