Late free throws lift DCHS girls

Free throw shooting has long been a point of contention between the Drew Central Lady Pirates and their coach, Michael Goad.

"I've tried everything," Goad said. "We've ran for free throws, we've had them play games, we've made them make 100 before they could leave the gym. I've tried every trick in the book."

So these Lady Pirates may never be a great free throw shooting team, but that's OK as long as they can make them when it counts.

They did just that Tuesday, November 17, against Crossett. Marisha Mays sank 3 of 4 from the line in the final 19 seconds as the Drew Central girls held on for a 54-51 win at DCHS.

Goad asks his players to use the same routine for every foul shot, and Mays has a unique approach. She passes the ball behind her back from one hand to the other before every free throw.

Mays was 6 of 10 from the line against the Lady Eagles, which was slightly better than the team's 50 percent (17 of 34).

"She shot 75 percent in the fourth quarter, which is big," Goad said. "I really got on her in the third quarter, and she came back and made some plays for us down the stretch. She played some good defense, made some big free throws."

Mays helped the Lady Pirates (2-0) survive quite a scare in the second game of the season. After opening with a lopsided win over Dermott, the Drew Central girls got all they wanted from Crossett.

"We didn't play at all like we're capable of playing," Goad said. "But it's the second game of the year, and you expect that kind of stuff. The positive is we pulled it out in the end and found a way to win."

The Lady Pirates trailed much of the second half, including a 50-48 deficit with just over a minute to play. A free throw by Jada Lyles trimmed the margin to 50-49, and a layup by Gailbriel Jenkins put Drew Central ahead 51-50 with 41 seconds left.

The Lady Pirates then forced a 10-second call in the backcourt, leaving the Lady Eagles no choice but to foul. They sent Mays to the line for a 1-and-1 with 19 seconds left. She made both for a 53-50 lead.

After a free throw by Crossett's LaJoya Wilson on the other end, Mays was fouled again with 3 seconds on the clock. She sank the second of two to set the final margin.

Jenkins had a monster night with 21 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and four steals, all team-highs. Lyles had 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and one steal. Mays had three rebounds and three assists to go with her six points.

The Lady Pirates got out to a quick 7-0 lead but soon began struggling with Crossett's press. The Lady Eagles trailed just 15-12 entering the second quarter, where they took a 16-15 lead on consecutive baskets by Ladondra Robinson.

"We just really lost our composure (in the first half)," Goad said. "We got in a hurry, got ahead of ourselves and didn't make good decisions with the ball. We took a lot of bad shots and made a lot of bad passes."

Still, the DCHS girls were able to regain the lead on a 3-pointer by Lyles and led 26-23 at halftime.

Crossett, though, opened the second half on an 8-2 run. The Lady Eagles led most of the third quarter and were up 39-36 before a buzzer-beating trey by Lyles tied the game 39-39 entering the fourth. The lead changed hands six more times in the final period.

Shanae Govan led Crossett with 18 points. Robinson had 12, and Cierra Campbell had 10.

Drew Central was scheduled to play at Warren on Friday, November 20, but those games were canceled due to a conflict with state football playoffs.

A trip to Crossett was scheduled for Monday, November 23, while Drew Central was set to host Hamburg on Tuesday, November 24. Results from those games were unavailable at press time.

Up next is the Fordyce Bank & Trust Classic, scheduled for November 30 through December 5. The Lady Pirates will open against Malvern at 4:25 p.m. Wednesday, December 2.

<p>Drew Central's Marisha Mays, left, drives to the basket as Crossett's LaJoya Wilson defends during a senior girls game Tuesday, November 17, at DCHS. Mays sank 3 of 4 free throws in the final 19 seconds to help the Lady Pirates secure a 54-51 win.</p>


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