The Lee Lady Flames made history on Saturday afternoon and at the same time remained deadlocked with Delta State in a battle for first place in the Gulf South Conference.
After squeaking out a two-point victory over the always strong Union Lady Bulldogs in Jackson earlier in the season, the Lady Flames broke open a tight game in the final 2 1/2 minutes in claiming the hard-earned 70-65 victory at Walker Arena.
The win moved Lee to 15-4 overall and an impressive 11-2 mark in the rugged GSC. Union dropped to 15-5 overall and 10-4 in conference action.
"Anytime you can get a sweep over Union and a Mark Campbell-coached team, it's a great accomplishment," said a proud Coach Marty Rowe. "Our girls stepped up and played with tremendous confidence, especially in the second half and down the stretch. We matched Union bucket for bucket for a long period of time."
The contest was tied nine times and also featured nine lead changes. Union led 27-23 at the half, but Lee opened quickly in the second half and shot a blistering 52 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes. On the other hand, Union, a 3-point shooting team, was only able to convert 7-of-22 attempts from behind the arc against the stingy Lee defense.
"It was a solid all-around team effort," noted Rowe. "Every player played a role in this victory, and that is what it takes to win this type of game."
After a slow start, Hollie German finished strong and knocked down 6-of-9 3-pointers and converted all six of her free throws. She finished with 26 points, four rebounds and two assists. Jenna Adams also closed strong and recorded her 11th double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Rowe singled out another fine overall effort by Rachel Lockhart, who chalked up her first double-double of the year with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Myriah Iles came off the bench to add eight points and four rebounds, while Karley Miller added eight rebounds as Lee out-boarded the Lady Bulldogs 45-31.
"You could see how well played this basketball game was," said Rowe as he looked at the stat sheet and saw that his Lady Flames only had five turnovers compared to six for the visitors. "It doesn't get much better than that.”
For Union, Astrid Huttemann had 18 points and led her team with seven rebounds. Amy Philamlee added 15 points and Amber Rechis contributed 10. Lee had a huge advantage in second-chance points, out-scoring the Lady Bulldogs 21-6 in that department and grabbing 15 offensive rebounds.
There will be no time to celebrate for Rowe's ladies. They will hit the road and face Delta State in a showdown game on Thursday in Cleveland, Miss. Delta State handed the Lady Flames their only home defeat of the year.
Rowe praised the crowd as they turned out to support the annual Hoops for Hope game.
"It was a big win for our team but an even bigger victory for our LUDIC program and their students," he pointed out.
FLAMES 75, BULLDOGS 63
Balance was the name of the game as the Lee men finished strong to Union 75-63 in Saturday’s finale.
Coach Tommy Brown admitted he was completely exhausted after another conference game that was contested the entire 40 minutes. However, the outcome was different in this home battle as the Flames surged down the stretch and improved to 8-11 on the year while picking up their fourth GSC victory against nine defeats. The Bulldogs, who posted a narrow victory over Lee earlier in the year, dropped to 10-10 overall and 6-8 against conference opponents.
"We changed up a few things on defense, and that seemed to help down the stretch," said Brown. "We realize that you can't do the same thing over and over in this league because the coaching is simply too good."
The Flames did the job on both ends of the floor. Corey Billingsley, who made 8-of-11 shots, paced the Flames with 16 points. Brice Sharp turned in his finest effort as a Lee player by scoring 14 points, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range. He also had seven rebounds and a pair of steals in 24 minutes of playing time.
Chad Lee joined the 3-point act. He converted 3-of-4 treys and was 2-of-2 from the line, finishing with 11 points. Tyquan Roberts had 11 points and paced the Flames with eight rebounds. Jamal Worthington completed the double-figure scoring with 10 points and seven rebounds. The Flames won the rebounding battle 39-36 and Valentino Thomas totaled eight points. Stedmon Ford finished with five points and three assists.
The Flames shot 47 percent from the field and outscored Union in points in the paint 38-30. Lee also had 19 points from bench players and Union only nine. The rugged battle was tied 10 times and had 14 lead changes.
The Bulldogs were led by Corieon Pearson who tallied 23 points.
"We were able to slow him down late in the game and that was one of the keys to our victory," explained Brown.
AJ Roberts tossed in 12 points and paced the visitors with six rebounds, while Roy Bullock had 11 points and helped keep the Bulldogs in the game with five steals. Brown also noted that it was the second straight game that his Flames had held their opponent in the low 30s (34 percent) in field goal attempts.
The road gets tougher for the young Flames on Thursday and Saturday as they travel to Delta State to face the league-leading Statesmen and a very strong Christian Brothers team.