Missy Gators fall just short

Published 12:01 pm Wednesday, December 1, 2010

At the end of a night filled with bumbles and missteps, it was only appropriate that Vicksburg High got right the one thing it needed to do wrong.

Vicksburg’s Shaniqua Butler missed the first of two potential tying free throws with 2.5 seconds remaining against Forest Hill. She bricked the second in an attempt to miss and try for the rebound, but it hit nothing but net and Forest Hill was able to run out the clock on a 51-50 victory Tuesday.

It was the last piece of a forgettable night for the Missy Gators. They committed 27 turnovers, shot just 32 percent from the field and wasted an opportunity to knock off a Forest Hill squad that struggled just as much. The Lady Patriots had 20 turnovers and shot 39.6 percent.

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“We missed too many shots under the basket. After we scored, we didn’t get back on defense and they were attacking,” Vicksburg coach Barbara Hartzog said, rattling off a list of mistakes made by her team. “A couple times we had five or six shots under the basket and couldn’t put it back in. I’d rather lose by 30 than by one. There’s a lot of things you can think back at that could’ve been different — free throws, missed layups.”

Butler led Vicksburg (3-3) with 18 points, while Donyeah Mayfield had 14 points, 17 rebounds and five steals. Tamisha Hobson had 14 points for Forest Hill (5-1), and Claressa Banks had eight points and eight rebounds.

For all its struggles, Vicksburg still had a chance to win. It led by as many as seven points in the first half, when Forest Hill went 10-for-31 from the field, and stormed back from a 12-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to tie it at 49 with 1:39 left.

All of the missed opportunities eventually caught up to the Missy Gators, though. Banks hit a baseline jumper with 14 seconds left to put Forest Hill ahead 51-49. On the other end, Butler was fouled with 2.5 seconds to go and went to the line with a chance to tie it again.

Her first free throw bounced high off the back of the rim and fell harmlessly to the floor. Needing to intentionally miss the second to give the Missy Gators a chance at the tying basket, she fired a line drive toward the hoop. It zipped perfectly through the net, cutting the deficit to one point. Vicksburg, which only committed three fouls in the second half, couldn’t force a turnover on the inbounds pass and didn’t have enough time to force the Lady Patriots to the foul line.

“We should’ve won that game. It shouldn’t have been close,” Hartzog said. “It wasn’t anything Forest Hill did. We did it to ourselves.”