MMI edges Lady Rebels for Class A title

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2006

MONTGOMERY - Ever since their first meeting, Lowndes Academy coach Matt Marshall had said that his group of Lady Rebels could match-up with the Lady Tigers of Marion Military Institute.

Thursday night was their opportunity to prove it.

For the better part of three and a half periods they did just that. They were able to match-up with the Lady Tigers, keeping within two or three points of their opponents.

In the end though, the Lady Tigers proved to be too much for the Lady Rebels, winning 40-36.

&#8220They held their composure,” said Dr. Michelle Ivey, coach of the Lady Tigers. &#8220Sprott got some key baskets …

Finally, the first state championship in the history of MMI!”

And they did racing out to an early 6-3 lead with three straight baskets from Chelcie Kilpatrick. But with 2:20 left in the game, the Lady Rebs trailed by a basket, 35-34. Senior Michelle Simms, who came in off the bench scored the go-ahead basket with 1:44 to play. Felicia Sprott grabbed a rebound and scored to put the Lady Tigers up by a basket 37-36, with 1:20 to play.

Sprott airballed the front-end of a pair of freebies, giving the ball back to the Lady Rebs with :34 to play. Marshall called a timeout to talk things over with his team.

&#8220I thought we left it all on the floor,” said Marshall. &#8220Outside of their game with Sumter, we played them closer than anyone else has all year.”

The Lady Rebs were unable to capitalize on the possession, turning the ball back over to the Lady Tigers with 25 seconds to play. Samantha Suttles was fouled by Simms. Suttles drained both free throws, to push the Lady Tigers up by a triple, 39-36 with less than :10 to play.

&#8220Too many turnovers cost us,” said Marshall. &#8220But there are 12 girls in the locker room that believed that they could have won that game. There isn't much you can say.”

With 1:52 to go in the opening frame, the Lady Rebels raced to an early 9-5 lead. Emily Easley sank a deep two to cut the lead in half and then Felicia Sprott laid in the tying basket, 9-9.

&#8220They had the size to match-up with her so we knew they were going to do that, but she made the baskets and that's the difference in being a senior and being here before,” said Ivey.

Fourty seconds later, Sprott sank the go ahead basket to end the first period, leading 11-9.

&#8220I've been waiting for this for four years,” said Sprott. &#8220We've came here three years in a row and we've lost.

We always come out real strong in the second half.”

The Lady Tigers opened the second period with an 8-0 run to take a 17-9 lead halfway through the period.

The Lady Rebels came back cutting the lead to six, and then to four with a basket by Jennifer LePage. LePage added the one free throw cutting the lead to three with 3:35 left in the half.

Freshman Jordan Insinga brought the game to within one with an underneath basket with 2:28 left to play in the half.

Two fouls on the Lady Rebels and a traveling violation allowed the Lady Cadets to maintain their narrow two-point lead at the intermission, 20-18.

The Lady Rebs quickly tied the game to open the third period, but the Lady Tigers pushed ahead following a pair of freebies from Sprott. With 4:15 left in the third period, the Lady Tigers remained on top by a basket, 24-22.

With 2:39 left in the period, Kilpatrick's 3-point rang true, giving the Lady Rebels the lead, 25-24 with 1:55 to play.

Sprott fought through a Lady Reb double-team to give the Cadets the one-point lead with less than 30 seconds left to play in the third period.

&#8220I told my girls, I'm the captain of my team, win or lose it doesn't matter as long as we played good,” said Sprott.

Down the stretch, though, free throws proved to be the difference as the Lady Tigers edged the Lady Rebs 40-36 to win the school's first team championship.

Sprott had 18 points.