BLOG — The top-ranked and undefeated Oxford Lady Chargers overcame an upset bid by Canton to post a 63-49 victory in Friday night’s Class 5A North Half semifinals and earn the program’s first trip to the state tournament since 2005.
Saturday’s North Half title game at the OHS gym will not be a matchup of unbeatens, however, as Center Hill shocked Jackson Lanier 40-36 in overtime in the opener Friday. The loss ended the season for 2011 state champion Lanier and snapped the Lady Bulldogs’ 57-game winning streak. Oxford (30-0) and Center Hill (26-5) will play at 7 p.m. Saturday to decide the semifinal pairings in the upcoming state tourney in Jackson.
Oxford used its pressure defense and up-tempo offense to race out to a 29-8 lead midway through the second period, only to see Canton (20-10) pick its way back in the game. The Lady Tigers used a 14-4 run to trim the deficit to 11 by halftime and then, with OHS leading scorer Erika Sisk sitting with four fouls most of the third period, cut it to just a point (37-36) with 3:43 left in the quarter. Alexus Malone converted an old-fashioned three-point play 20 seconds later to stop Canton’s run, and Sisk returned to help Oxford go back up 47-40 by the end of the period. Moe Pegues and Kristen Dickerson hit shots in the opening minute of the fourth stanza to push the lead to 51-40, and the Lady Chargers knocked down eight of 12 free shots the rest of the way to protect their lead.
“Our senior class, it’s been their goal since last year when we lost in the North Half semis to Callaway to get (to state) this year,” OHS coach Shayne Linzy said. “They made the commitment then to go to Jackson this year, and they’ve done that. They don’t get flustered; they know what to do out there.”
OHS had to play crucial minutes with Sisk on the bench and then had to run clock in the final period to protect the lead.
“It’s good to have games like that,” Linzy said. “This is North Half and state is coming up. There are no more blowouts. You’ve got to learn to play four quarters and to do things you haven’t been doing. We did that tonight.”
Sisk finished with 21 points to lead all scorers. Malone had 16 and Dickerson added 12 for OHS. Jamilah Sanders topped Canton with 13.
(February 17, 2012)