By Chris McCarthy/Editor
What appeared to be a blowout turned into a nail biter on Monday in Glencoe.
Trailing by as many as 14 points against Class 6A Oxford midway through the second quarter, Sardis battled back to draw within 36-35 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
The Lady Lions (6-10, 1-2) couldn’t get any closer, however, eventually losing 43-35 in the round-robin Glencoe Holiday Shootout.
Sardis head coach Scott Sandlin was pleased that his team didn’t fold after being down by double digits for much of the first half.
“The biggest thing is that we had to get used to the speed of their traps early on. As soon as we got settled in, the game came back to us a little bit. I was really proud of the way we competed today. If we executed like we could have down the stretch, we might have had a chance, but we turned [the ball] over several times late in the game when we were down by four or five points.”
The Lady Lions certainly looked out of sorts in the early going, as Oxford’s full-court press led to 12 Sardis turnovers and a 16-2 Oxford lead after one period. The Lady Lions’ lone basket was Macy Bridges’ layup at 6:38. Casmine Copeland scored nine of her 15 points during the first eight minutes.
The Lady Yellow Jackets’ domination continued into the second frame, as Deja Owens’ basket at 4:10 extended Oxford’s lead to 23-9.
That’s when the Sardis defense stiffened and the Lady Lion sharpshooters starting hitting from downtown. Respective three-point baskets from Kacee Mashburn and Carley Gardner drew Sardis within eight points, and Gardner’s buzzer-beating trey trimmed the Oxford advantage to 25-18 at halftime.
“We had some girls who are finally making some 3’s when they get a chance to,” said Sandlin. “We have to shoot from the side a lot because we’re undersized, so we have to play from outside in. I don’t really like doing that, but we really have no choice.”
For the game, Sardis shot 6-for-11 from 3-point range.
The Lady Lions kept the pressure up in the third quarter. Four straight points from Katelyn Beasley drew Sardis within 25-22, and Allie Jones’ jump shot at 4:43 gave Sardis its first lead at 27-26.
Oxford recovered to take a five-point lead before Mashburn’s foul shot with under a minute to go cut the deficit to 32-28.
Although Sardis struggled on offense in the fourth period with just two field goals, Selana Tarvin’s two free throws with 4:18 left in the game narrowed the gap to 36-35.
That turned out to be the Lady Lions’ final score of the afternoon, as Oxford ended the game on 7-0 run.
Mashburn led Sardis with nine points, followed by Tarvin with eight and Beasley with six. Beasley also had seven rebounds.
Deanna Clark added 11 points for Oxford.
“What I just tried to make clear to the girls is that we’ve be successful if we compete at that every game, we’ll beat most of the teams we’ll play on our schedule,” said Sandlin.
“The reason why we played [in the tournament] was to compete against people that we could stay on the floor with them, it would help us later on in the area and county games. Playing teams like Oxford will make you better, as long as you don’t let them blow you out. What we’re really stressing to the girls is that we have to play our best basketball in January. I think this team understands what’s at stake, so I think we’ll have a good second half of the season.”