Ulmer returns from injury to help lead HHS to state titleBy CAMAL PETRO,
JACKSON – Sophomore Chelsea Ulmer has been a bright spot for the Hattiesburg Lady Tigers since her freshman season. With her older sister, Terralyn Ulmer, leading the team as the point guard, Chelsea averaged 10 points and three steals a game as a freshman last season.
As a sophomore, Chelsea Ulmer finished the season averaging eight points and three steals, but the road was definitely rocky for the 5-foot-6 guard and newly crowned state champion.
In a late January game against crosstown rival Oak Grove, Ulmer scored 10 points and recorded three steals. However, she wouldn’t see the court until Hattiesburg 5A Quarterfinal matchup with Neshoba Central more than a month later.
Ulmer suffered a stress fracture in her leg, but it healed just enough for her to give it a go last week. She scored just two points in the 10-point quarterfinal win over the Lady Rockets, and she admits she played scared.
“I was kind of shaky. I was scared,” she said. “Any minute it could crack. That’s all I was worried about. I hoped it don’t crack and I can finish out the season.”
She bounced back in the 5A Semifinals fives days later against Lafayette, though. She scored nine points and pulled down four rebounds in the 14-point win to send the Lady Tigers to the 5A State Championship. Her time on the court went up a little bit, too, playing 13 minutes.
“She’s one of our extra ball-handlers and it takes a little pressure off of Terralyn up there,” Hattiesburg coach Caronica Jackson said after Hattiesburg’s win over the Lady ’Dores Tuesday. “It lets her get a little rest off the ball, so it’s definitely helped to have Chelsea back.”
She played 27 minutes in the state championship game Friday and scored 10 points with two steals in the win. Her last-second shot to uplift Hattiesburg by a single point was the biggest basket in the Lady Tigers program’s history.
As West Jones was set to inbound the ball with 4 seconds left and a 1-point lead, there was a, albeit brief, conversation about leaving in or taking out Ulmer for the final play.
“That was one of the things we were talking about,” Jackson said. “‘Should we keep her in on defense?’ I said, ‘We need her to stay in incase we need somebody to score the ball, and luckily she was in the right place at the right time and she finished it.”
The Hattiesburg Lady Tigers were a good team without Ulmer on the court, but with her, they were state championship caliber.
“It took a lot of pressure off my sister, Terralyn, being the point guard and having all of that pressure on her,” Chelsea said. “I kind of knocked some of it off. Really, my presence didn’t make a difference. It still worked without me.”