The Game Plan By Charles Prince

The North Jefferson News

After a 1-21 season in 2006-07, there didn’t seem to be a bright future for Hayden Lady Wildcat basketball, but after an infusion of young talent on the roster, there could be a shiny new day could be dawning for the Hayden girls basketball program.

Last Friday night, the Lady Wildcats wouldn’t quit after they fell behind 21-5. Instead of folding up and mailing in the rest of the contest by going through the motions, the Lady Wildcats fought back.

Lead by the scoring of sophomores Mallory Ray and Tiffany Myrick, the Lady Wildcats cut into the lead slowly, but surely.

During their climb back into the game, not only did seniors Terri Sharp and Courtney Niceley, but also a young group of Lady Wildcats including sophomores Sam Niblett, Melissa Stricklin and Shauna Bryant and eighth grader Krista Stricklin were on the floor playing a role for Hayden.

In the third period, they took their first lead of the game, but soon the visitors from Hanceville regained the lead. For a second time, Hayden had a chance to quit, but they didn’t they keep playing hard and inched back into the game.

With just 11 seconds to play, they trailed by three and it looked like things would end badly for a club that had demonstrated so much heart in getting back into contention.

But after being fouled taking a 3-point shot, sophomore Tiffany Myrick stepped to the line and sank three straight fouls shots to force the extra period tied at 58-all.

In the overtime, Hayden took a 61-60 lead, but soon Hanceville had a 64-62 lead with less than a minute to play. Once again, a young team had a chance to give into nerves and give up, but instead they kept fighting back.

Ray’s jumper in the lane with 28 seconds forced a second overtime as inexperienced squad got a huge shot of confidence by fending off defeat for a second consecutive period of play.

In the second extra period, the Lady Wildcats took leads at 66-64, 67-66, 69-67 and 71-69, but each time Hanceville tied the score. Still, the Lady Wildcats refused to crack. Instead they just took care of their business—playing tough defense and finding the open shooter on offense.

With Hayden trying to hold onto a 73-72 lead, Myrick sealed the win with a turnaround jumper just to the left of the lane for a three-point cushion, 75-72. Hanceville’s desperate half court heave at the buzzer was well short and Hayden had matched last year’s win total on the opening night of this season.

Last season, the Lady Wildcats were blown out time and again, so winning their first game this season was quite a surprise. It’s a long season, but a new day may be dawning for Lady Wildcat basketball. It appears it could be a bright one.

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