CORSICANA, Texas — A last second shot by junior Jalie Dawson with six seconds left gave the Lady Tigers a 48-46 victory over Maypearl on Monday at Navarro College's Wolens Center.
“That was an awesome shot and Jalie played great,” Malakoff coach Megan Hyde said. “They all played great tonight. At the end, they all buckled down and got a stop and that is all that matters.”
The contest, a UIL Class 3A, Region III bi-district game, pitted District 17-3A No. 2 Maypearl High School (21-9, 11-3) against East Texas District 18-3A No.3 Malakoff (19-10).
Unlike Malakoff, the Lady Panthers entered the reeling from an energy-sapping 50-26 rivalry defeat at the hands of eventual District Champion Grandview High School. The loss, too, came despite a late Lady Panther rally and interior domination by resident freshman post Sol Cabuto.
Maypearl tied the game at 46 with under 30 seconds remaining as Maddie Creech found Cabuto, who had her way in the post and scored 16 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, cutting through the lane and the Malakoff defense.
The numbers, though, weren't in the Lady Panthers' favor.
"We were without one of our main players," said Greg Kudrna, the head girls' basketball coach at Maypearl. "Phylicia Grimes was going to start the game but came down with a high fever and couldn't play. That really messed up the post rotation and we really started to get fatigued in the second half with all the minutes the girls played."
Malakoff coach Megan Hyde said she could tell her players were tight in the first half as the Lady Panthers jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the first quarter. The Lady Tigers faced only a three-point deficit at halftime after outscoring Maypearl 19-16 in the second quarter.
Kynlee Herrin, who scored 12 points on 3-pointers and nearly notched a double-double with nine rebounds, hit a 3-pointer after a deft assist from Campell in the fourth quarter. The Lady Tigers, though, were able to cut into the lead and dwindle the deficit to 24-16 with 4:21 remaining in the first half on a free throw by Dawson.
Malakoff continued to turn up the defensive pressure as they got to within three points after another free throw by Dawson with 2:05 remaining. On the next possession, Campbell hit two free throws to give the Lady Panthers a two-point lead.
With 1:27 remaining in the first half, Cabuto scored an 3-point play as she got the assist from Herrin. That gave the Lady Panthers a 29-25 lead.
In the third quarter, the defensive pressure picked up for both teams as Maypearl outscored Malakoff, 7-5, in the period for a 40-35 lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Tigers caused Maypearl fits with aggressive defense causing multiple turnovers.
With 6:40 remaining, the Lady Panthers had their biggest lead of the quarter at, 42-37 after a Campbell layup.
"They tied us a couple times but they didn't take the lead until the last few minutes of the game. They have nothing to hang their head about because they played well but played Malakoff on a night they played a little better," Kudrna said. "On the locker room, I told the girls I loved them. I'm 61 years old and have coached about 40 years. I've coached a lot of teams and they were a special group to with no drama and all fun. They were one of those special groups that you get every once-in-a-while. We're going to miss our seniors because anytime that you lose a senior class that means that much to a program you feel it."
Much like the battery of Maypearl's District 17-3A, Hyde said a tough schedule this year helped the Lady Tigers in the final stretch of the game.
“We played a lot of hard games this year finally,” Hyde said. “We did not have a cupcake schedule so I think those games helped out a ton. It was nerve-wracking, but I am glad that it happened.”
Dawson led the way for Malakoff with a game-high 20 points.
Kamry Hurd had 12, junior Charlsey Stearman had five, junior Nakeya Kelley had four and freshman Sha’Kera Thompson had two.
Maypearl had three points from Creech and Meredith Keasler and two from Alyssa Holder.
Malakoff will face Little River Academy at 6 p.m. Friday during the 3A area round matchup. It will be a rematch two years in the making.
“I would love to see Whitney, but we are probably going to see Little River Academy again,” Hyde said. “They are tough and have the same group back and the point guard that we faced the first time two years ago. They dominated [their district] and have the same team that went to state last year. It will be a challenge but if we can play with that same type of heart, we will be all right. We are hoping for Friday and probably at Hubbard again.”
According to the Malakoff head coach, the Lady Tigers have one key area they need to work on during practice this week to prepare for the area round.
“We better rebound a whole lot better than we did tonight,” Hyde said. “If we do that, the defense can take care of itself.”
*Additional reporting done by Waxahachie Daily Light Sports Editor Marcus S. Marion