By Robbie Robertson
Winston County Journal
After struggling through a rigorous regular-season schedule, the Noxapater Lady Tigers have saved some of their best basketball for the postseason.
The Lady Tigers, the No. 3 seed out of the District 4-1A, went on the road on Monday night and knocked off Sacred Heart, taking a 53-49 overtime victory.
The Lady Tigers now advance in the 1A playoffs and will travel to Durant on Friday night for a 7 p.m. contest.
“We played a horrible first half of basketball last night,” Noxapater head coach Shaquinta Robinson said. “We adjusted some things at halftime and came out very aggressive on defense in the second half. We saw the floor better on offense in the third and fourth quarter and took the lead. In overtime, we got up quick and never looked back. Their effort in the second half was the best I have seen all year.”
According to MaxPreps, Durant is 18-8 on the season and is averaging 62.2 points a game. Durant is led by 5-foot-10 junior Tamara Riley who is averaging 23.3 points a game, including a season-high 37 points against Winona. Junior Aquasia Edwards is averaging 13.8 points a game and sophomore Dekla Mitchell is averaging 11.3 points a game. Durant finished with a 7-1 record in Division 5-1A in the regular season and won the district tournament. Durant crushed Mount Olive in the opening round of the 1A playoffs, taking a 75-15 victory.
The winner of Friday’s contest advances to the state tournament, with games being played in the Mississippi Coliseum.
The Lady Tigers made the playoffs by beating rival Nanih Waiya 27-23 in the first round of the Division 4-1A playoffs. Faith Harrington led the Lady Tigers with 10 points while Madelyn Wilkes added eight points and Olivia McDonald had seven points.
It was the third time this season that the Noxapater beat Nanih Waiya, taking a 45-43 decision in January and a 51-43 win in early February.
In the semifinals, the Lady Tigers fell to 52-34 to Leake Central as Harrington had 12 points and Madelyn Wilkes had nine points.
In the consolation game, the Lady Tigers took a 47-45 win over homestanding Sebastopol to claim the No. 3 seed. The Lady Tigers overcame a 22-17 halftime deficit by outscoring the Lady Bobcats 14-3 in the third period to take the win. Wilkes led the Lady Tigers with 15 points while Harrington had 10 points.