MONTICELLO — Alyssa English knew exactly what to do when McGehee’s Latrice Clark banked in a free-throw line jumper to grab a 47-46 lead with 15 seconds left in Friday’s 8-3A district championship game.
The Fordyce junior knew her coach Ronald Smead wouldn’t call timeout, so she just took the in-bounds pass and drove the length of the floor.
English, who finished with 12 points, reached the baseline and hit a pull-up jump shot to give her team the district title.
McGehee had 6.2 seconds to respond but didn’t get a shot off as Fordyce won the championship game 48-47 at Drew Central High School.
“I just knew that we needed to score,” English said. “The second I shot it, I knew it was going in.”
Smead said going over similar situations in practice helped his team respond to Clark’s shot.
“We go over it and they know if someone makes a shot with less than 15 seconds I’m not calling a timeout,” he said. “We try and take advantage of them celebrating.
“Hopefully we get off a good shot, and tonight Alyssa got off an excellent shot.”
English’s jumper capped a wild final minute that saw the lead change hands four times.
Fordyce led 44-40 before McGehee sophomore Shakyla Begnaud, who finished with 22 points, completed a 5-0 run on a layup with 53 seconds left.
Macy Mosley answered on the other end for the Lady Bugs (22-7) with about 35 seconds remaining before Clark gave the Lady Owls (13-8) the lead.
Fordyce entered the fourth quarter with a 37-31 lead, but McGehee scored the first seven points of the period. The run was capped by two Begnaud free throws that gave the Lady Owls their first lead.
Smead thought the difference in the game was the hustle and toughness his team showed.
“That determination and that pride has been something we have pushed since I’ve been coaching here,” he said. “We might not be the best team but we are not going to be outhustled.”
McGehee coach Karen Broughton also thought the difference in the game was Fordyce’s hustle.
“I told them we got outhustled,” she said. “Now you can do one of two things.
“You can hang your head and cry and let this carry over to next week. Or you can get your head up and get back to work on Monday.”
On the other side, the Lady Bugs have to avoid a letdown when the 3A Region 4 tournament begins next week at Drew Central.
“I think it’s a confidence booster,” Smead said. “Anytime you can win a big ballgame it’s huge.
“You just can’t take a day off, because that first game of regionals is another big game.”
Fordyce junior Lacie Hulse, who finished with a team-high 19 points, doesn’t think her team will have a hangover from winning the district tournament.
“We’re going to practice as hard as we can Monday and Tuesday,” she said. “And get ready for regionals.”