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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2007
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Sparkman too big for Austin’s heart
Lady Black Bears’ season ends with 9-point loss

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaIly.com · 340-2462

HARVEST — Austin High’s girls basketball team played about as well as it possibly could Thursday night. It scrapped, it clawed, and it even dictated the pace of the game for most of the first quarter, but ultimately fell to third-ranked Sparkman 44-35, ending the season for the Lady Black Bears in the first round of the Class 6A, Area 16 tournament.

“I don’t know how much better we could have played,” Austin coach Bruce Hamilton said. “We had to play near perfect basketball to beat them.”

China McDaniel had 13 points and Nikkia Jordan scored nine to pace Austin, which ended its season at 16-16.

Adrianne Webb led all scorers with 18 points for Sparkman (23-2), which has beaten the Lady Black Bears three times this year. Chatia Kelsey and Shai Wilkins each had nine.

With the score tied at 9 and time running out in the first quarter, Jordan hit a runner in the lane with four seconds left to give Austin an 11-9 lead and maybe some momentum heading into the second quarter.

The next play though, Webb launched a prayer from midcourt, which went through the basket for a 12-11 lead.

“Sparkman is as good a team,” Austin senior guard
Chasity Stover said. “It was about playing with heart and pride. We had nothing to lose. It was about being brave.”

And for much of the game, Austin heeded Stover’s words. The Lady Black Bears never gave in.

Sparkman showed its talent by continually building its lead with mini-runs, but never had that mega-spurt to blow out Austin.

A 15-point third quarter by Sparkman was enough to give it some breathing room at 38-27, but not enough to put the Lady Black Bears away.

Austin stayed within striking distance in the final period, but had trouble scoring. From 4:41 until 2:05, Austin held onto the basketball, missing shots, but somehow getting rebounds or causing turnovers before the ball advanced past half court.

During that span though, the Lady Black Bears did not score one point.

At 1:41, Ardiana Wilkerson made a layup and with 45 seconds left.

Jordan scored a basket to cut the Sparkman lead to six.

But that was the closest the Lady Black Bears got. Sparkman’s Jamiee Freeman completed a three-point play with 31.8 seconds left to put the score at its final number.

“We were a little too inconsistent and came up a little short,” Hamilton said.

“They’re a good team, but nobody is happy to be home this time of the season.”

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