Biloxi ends Lady Warriors season in second round

HATTIESBURG – Oak Grove girls basketball coach Mark Swindle expected to see a tough game when the Biloxi Lady Indians visited Friday night in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs. Now, he wishes the Mississippi High School Athletic Association allowed do-overs.

With a disappointing first-half offense and a tenacious Biloxi man-to-man defense, the Lady Warriors ended the season with a 55-38 loss. The defeat finished Oak Grove’s year with a 24-4 record after winning the District 5-6A title on Feb. 17.

***Click for a PHOTO GALLERY from Matt Bush.***

Swindle said Biloxi (21-9) came prepared to play. The Lady Indians defeated Pearl 54-41 on Feb. 20 to advance to the second round.

“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Swindle said. “They got some good guard play and good post play. We didn’t play good early, we didn’t play in the middle, we didn’t play at the end. … It was one of those deals that if we did it again, it might be different. But we don’t get another chance.”

Oak Grove’s girls connected on only 1-of-4 free throws in the first five minutes to fall behind 5-1 before buckets by Gabby Haynes and Alesha Temple tied the score 5-all. However, Biloxi’s Anna Thigpen converted two free throws for the 7-5 first-quarter lead. Both teams missed a pair of free throws before the horn sounded.

In the second quarter, Biloxi scored nine unanswered points for a 16-7 lead and stayed ahead 18-10 at intermission.

Swindle said the Lady Warriors couldn’t convert at the free-throw line in the first half. Then Biloxi fired ahead after halftime.

“Not making free throws in the first half hurt us,” he said, noting Oak Grove connected on 4-of-10 first-half charity shots. “And then they score quickly in the third quarter. We knew they had a shooter (Gabrielle Fantroy). We left her open and she made shots. Shyla McGee for them drove to the goal against us.”

The Lady Indians opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run behind two treys from Fantroy and four points from McGee. Biloxi finished out the third quarter outscoring Oak Grove 9-7 for a 37-19 margin after three quarters.

Swindle said the Lady Indians controlled the game under the goal.

“We couldn’t get inside,” he said. “We had opportunities to get inside and get it down, and we just didn’t. We either didn’t make the shot or something. It was a situation that we got what we thought we would get, but we just didn’t make it.”

The Lady Warriors transition game also stalled, Swindle said.

“We didn’t have any fast break at all,” he said. “That was another factor; they made some offensive rebounds. The main thing is they got into my point guard and she couldn’t get free from it. Then the other people didn’t step up, so it’s one of those deals where she was looking for other people and they weren’t there.”

In the fourth quarter, both teams traded baskets and free throws. However, the Lady Indians led by as many as 20 points – 45-25 with 3:36 to play.

Swindle said the Lady Warriors could not get up to speed to start the game.

“The week layoff is not an excuse, but it is,” he said. “You try to get to that game speed and then take off three or four days, it makes a difference.”

However, the Oak Grove coach said he is proud of what his team has accomplished with the District 5-6A title.

“It’s always disappointing to go through this process,” he said. “I always say that we had maybe not our best play, but we gave it all we’ve got.”