BOLIVAR – After grabbing an offensive rebound on a missed free throw with 13.6 seconds left, South Side’s Asia Currie had a decision to make.
Was she to go with the play that was designed and get the ball to Cheyenne Cunningham on the wing or was she going to try to take it herself?
A lane was open for Currie, and she took it to the free throw line and sank a jumper with less than five seconds on the clock to give the Lady Hawks the 66-64 victory over Bolivar on the road.
“I saw an opening and took it,” Currie said. “We are fighting to stay undefeated in district and get to the championship.”
Curry led South Side (15-3, 3-0) with 13 points and Currie added 11 to keep South Side as the lone unbeaten team in District 14-AA play. Bolivar falls to 2-1 in district play and 12-6 overall.
“The girls could have folded,” South Side coach Brent McNeal said. “We hung on our rebounding, and Asia got a big offensive rebound and then the jumper at the end.”
The win was the prettiest for the Lady Hawks, but winning ugly can make them a better team in the end.
“It wasn’t our best defensive game of the year,” McNeal said. “Everybody is giving us their best shot. I don’t care if people think our district is down, you have got to bring it every night. Bolivar has mottos of ‘Tigers don’t quit’ and ‘Beast mode Tigers’, and they believe it.”
South Side missed 23 free throws on the night, and five of those were the front end of 1-and-1s.
“We have to learn to tone everybody else out and just focus on our free throws,” Currie said.
But a 15-0 run in the first quarter put the Lady Hawks up 18-6.
South Side scored eight unanswered to close out the third quarter and take a 14-point lead into the final eight minutes (54-40).
But Kenylsha Bryant took over the fourth quarter, scoring 12 of her game-high 25 points, to bring the Lady Tigers back in the game.
A basket by Janai Chappell and two free throws and a lay-up by Bryant cut the South Side lead to five points (58-53) with 4:39 remaining.
And consecutive baskets by Bryant with 2:52 left cut the lead to one point (60-59).
The score was tied 61-61 and again 64-64 on a free throw by Bryant, but three missed free throws by two Bolivar players stopped any chance of the Lady Tigers taking the lead and set up South Side with a chance to win the game.
Nakeeta Franklin added 14 points to Bolivar’s scoring.
South Side 93,
South Side senior Chris McNeal recorded a triple-double with 27 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds as the Hawks improved to 10-6 overall and 3-0 in District 14-AA play.
Bolivar (4-14, 0-3) kept it close through each of the first three quarters, but the Hawks managed to pull away late.
McNeal led four Hawks in double figures as Terrikous Smith had 16, Dee Crews 15 and Geordan Reed had 13.
Cornelius Polk led the Tigers with 18 points and Kaleb McKinnie added 15 points.
Former South Side player Malik Hicks was on the Hawks’ bench at Bolivar. A senior this season, he transferred to another school in August and enrolled at South Side this week. The school is waiting to hear on if he’ll be ruled eligible to play with word expected next week.
Michael Odom, 425-9754