The Byrd Lady Jackets took perennial state title contender and undefeated West Monroe down to the wire on Thursday night before falling 59-56 at the Byrd gym.
The Lady Rebels’ Taylor Holzmeier dropped in a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining to seal the deal after Byrd’s Diamond Willis had nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner two seconds earlier.
“We play them every year and we knew it would be the same old song and dance. It’ll be a war,” West Monroe coach John Green said. “We knew coming in we had to withstand their early charge. We did that and we gave ourselves a chance to win at the end.”
The Lady Jackets (6-5) had their chances in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get the last shot to drop. A putback by Sha’Destiny Blackshire with under two minutes remaining gave Byrd its last lead at 49-48. A three-point play by West Monroe’s Desiree Lyons moments later gave the Lady Rebels a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Byrd did manage to tie the game twice after the clock rolled under two minutes.
“They are a fundamentally sound offensive team. They run good sets and screens, which we worked on all week,” Byrd coach Toni Martinez said. “I thought we played well defensively in both halves and gave ourselves an opportunity in the fourth quarter.”
The loss overshadowed a solid game from Byrd’s Alexus Dean, who made big play after big play and finished with 17 points.
“It was a very good game against a team that is undefeated,” Dean said. “We wanted it just as badly as they did, but the ball just rolled their way at the end.”
Diamond Willis contributed 15 points to the Byrd cause, while Blackshire and Ansley Tipton contributed 8 and 6 points respectively.
Holzmeier was hard to control under the bucket and led the visitors with 14 points. Lyons added 12, while Chelzee Matthews and Abby Lee tossed in 9 points apiece.
Byrd came out of the blocks fast, jumping out to a 13-5 lead in the first five minutes after 3-pointers from Amber Jackson and Willis. But the Lady Rebs closed the first quarter on a 7-2 to get within 15-12. West Monroe stayed hot to open the second quarter, with a 9-2 run to go in front 21-17 midway through the frame. But the Lady Jackets battled back and a 5-footer from Willis tied the game at 23 at the break.
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