By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Munford Lady Cougars already owned a victory over their rivals the Brighton Lady Cardinals coming into the Feb. 4 rematch in the Munford Gymnasium.
So the favored Lady Cardinals entered the contest with a measure of revenge on their minds. Brighton Head Coach Stan Gatlin knew it would take some sweat, tears and maybe even blood to earn the win over Steve Poindexter’s Lady Cougars.
The blood needed for Brighton to win 34-27 in overtime came in the third quarter when Sylvia “Bug” Jones took an elbow to the face. The senior left the game with her team ahead. When the senior leader came back the Lady Cardinals were trailing.
“Basically I was going up for a loose ball as well as the opponent,” Jones recalled with a huge band aid on her chin. “We clashed and boom blood everywhere. It was outside and in my mouth.”
The Lady Cardinals held a three-point advantage at the time of the collision. Once Jones headed to the locker room for medical attention, Lady Cougar Brezia Cooper drilled a triple to make the score 14-14.
Then moments later Lady Cougars No. 12 hit another three-pointer to regain the lead for Munford.
“We can’t lose this game,” Jones said. “That’s all I was thinking. When I came back it was 17-14. I was thinking, ‘We’ve got to go. We’ve got to go.’ When I first came back out I wanted to go straight back in. He was like, ‘No, we’ve got to make sure everything is straight.’ Then he gave me the OK and I came back in. We ended up going to overtime.”
The Lady Cougars’ largest lead was 19-14. Then Jones sprang into action with a steal leading to a break-away basket.
“Keeping the intensity up on defense and just talking and free throws is what really won the game in the long run,” she noted.
Gatlin said in the fourth quarter and overtime his Lady Cardinals did the little things to earn the win and stay in contention for the No. 1 in District 13-3A.
“Execution and mental toughness down the stretch, having more ‘want to’ than we’ve had in the past,” he said. “Obviously they wanted the win because they’ve beaten us before. We wanted to get our lick back. So we had to come in here ready.
“Coach Poindexter does a great job with his kids,” Gatlin added. “They play disciplined basketball, hats off to them. We came in and faced the adversity and weathered the storm. We came out with the W.”
Jones with some help from teammate Demiyah Gatlin helped Brighton force overtime with 8 combined points in the fourth quarter.
The 24-24 deadlock was broken in the early moments of overtime with Jones making a pair of foul shots. Jones went 7 of 8 from the line to help Brighton earn the victory.
“Hats off to her, I’ve been preaching to her all year about being a better leader,” Gatlin said. “That’s the kind of mentality you’ve got to have. Some kids would have been done as soon as they saw some blood.
“Most would have gone to the hospital,” he concluded. “She had a big ole gash under her lips. Hopefully she won’t have to have stitches or anything.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.