Lady Eagles earn first postseason victory since 2006

Published 11:23 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2019

RAYMOND — For as long as its current members have been on the team, and longer than any of them can probably remember, the first round of the district tournament has marked the end of the line for the Porter’s Chapel Academy Lady Eagles.

Often overwhelmed and rarely competitive, the program hadn’t been past that initial waypoint of the basketball postseason since 2006.

On Tuesday night, the streak came to a satisfying end.

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Hannah Embry scored 11 of her 17 points in the second half, on three 3-pointers and a pair of game-clinching free throws with 10.2 seconds left, as Porter’s Chapel beat Riverfield Academy 42-40 in the first round of the MAIS District 3-AAA tournament.

PCA (13-13) advanced to face Hillcrest Christian in the semifinals Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Central Hinds Academy, and also earned a spot in next week’s Class AAA South State tournament. It’s the first time in 13 years that the Lady Eagles have won a postseason game.

“Since I’ve played, we’ve never been this good. It’s great,” said Embry, who also had five rebounds.

PCA only made 11 of 36 shots from the field, but overcame it with outstanding rebounding and defense. It grabbed 34 rebounds — Anna Grace White, Brittnee Martin and Madison Wilkerson had seven each — and held Riverfield to only seven points during a 14-minute stretch from midway through the second quarter to early in the fourth.

The Lady Eagles slowly turned a seven-point deficit into a five-point lead during that time. Embry hit a 3-pointer with 2:03 left in the third quarter to give the Lady Eagles a 30-28 lead, then drilled another with 10 seconds left to make it 33-28.

“We moved the ball really well and our inside worked, and we stopped their inside,” said White, who finished with nine points.

Riverfield ended its slump when Taylor Hixon made a basket with 6:50 remaining in the fourth quarter. She finished with a team-high 11 points, with six coming during an 8-1 run that briefly put the Lady Raiders back in front.

A slew of turnovers down the stretch blunted Riverfield’s momentum, however, and allowed PCA to close the game with its own 8-4 run.

Wilkerson hit a short shot with 2:20 left to put the Lady Eagles ahead 40-38, and Embry’s two free throws with 10.2 seconds left made it a two-possession game.
“I wasn’t really nervous because we were still ahead,” Embry said.

Jordan Sanders hit a layup for Riverfield with four seconds to go, and the clock ran out before PCA had to inbound the ball again.

“We had certain keys I wanted them to focus on — blocking out, getting one shot, knocking our free throws down and executing our offense. We did all of them,” PCA coach Cookie Johnson said. “We played excellent defense tonight. We had a plan and executed it to a T.”

(G) Park Place 53, St. Al 34
Ariel Knott, Summer Dodson and Avery Price scored 12 points apiece — Price hit four 3-pointers — to lead Park Place Christian past St. Aloysius in the first round of the District 3-AAA girls tournament.

Park Place jumped out to a 20-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and never allowed the Lady Flashes to chip into the deficit.

Anna Gatlin led St. Al (0-21) with 11 points, while Kyla Goodlow and Taylor Chewning scored eight apiece.

Park Place advanced to face No. 2 seed and tournament host Central Hinds on Thursday at 4 p.m.

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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