By JOEL COLEMAN
MABEN – As the clock ticked down in Ackerman's nip-and-tuck game against East Webster Thursday night, Lady Indians head coach Gary Beals couldn't help but think he'd seen this script turn sour before.
This time however, Beals' team found a way to come out on top.
Iasia Lee's basket with just 6 seconds remaining broke a 45-all tie and gave Ackerman a 47-45 win over the Lady Wolverines at the East Webster Invitational Tournament.
"We get intimidated in girls athletics when we play East Webster," said Beals. "Softball broke the ice last year and I've been here, this will be my sixth year, and we've played East Webster close a lot of ballgames before. Tonight, we got nervous and did a lot of things, but were lucky to win."
Andrea Cutts scored 11 points and Carmen Long tallied 10 for the Lady Indians in an effort that spoiled East Webster's chance to notch its first win.
Lady Wolverines head coach Mandy Fondren seemed to believe her team was actually the better squad, despite what the scoreboard said.
"It's frustrating and it shouldn't have been a battle," said Fondren. "(Ackerman) is a decent ballclub with one or two decent players. They don't really have any ball handlers. We just didn't stick with our gameplan and it was a tough loss. We should have won the game."
East Webster (0-4), led by a 15-point effort from Jada Washington, held the lead at the end of every quarter, save for the one that counts the most.
The Lady Wolverines led 11-6 after the first period, held a 27-23 advantage at the intermission and were up 34-31 following the third quarter.
Still, Ackerman found a way to battle back in the end, thanks in large part to a string of clutch free throws down the stretch.
Seven of the Lady Indians' 16 fourth-quarter points came from the charity stripe, setting the stage for the Ackerman victory.
Four of those free throws came from Beals' senior leader Cutts.
"The seniors told me before 'Coach, we're going to play them and try to beat them one time,'" said Beals. "(Cutts) really played. I put the ball in her hands. Not so much that she scored, but she delivered it and it took two or three (East Webster) players to guard her. That opened up everybody else."
For Fondren, a former Ackerman Lady Indian herself during her prep career, Thursday night's loss was especially tough.
The second-year East Webster coach says she can't wait to get another shot at her former school.
"We're in (the Ackerman Tournament) later this year," said Fondren. "I'm ready."
For now, both the Lady Indians and Lady Wolverines will continue play in the East Webster Invitational.
Ackerman faces Eupora today at 4 p.m., while the Lady Wolverines take on West Oktibbeha at 7 p.m.
Fondren hopes her girls can rebound quickly and take steps towards turning their season around.
To do that, Fondren believes a key will be developing her team's confidence to take shots from outside the paint, something that cost the Lady Wolverines against Ackerman.
"Our offense is always getting the ball down low and shooting for two points," said Fondren. "I've got to have a couple of girls step up and be able to hit a three or just an outside shot."
East Webster 75,
MABEN – Ledrick Patterson's 16 first quarter points set the tone for East Webster's dominating win over Ackerman Thursday in the East Webster Invitational Tournament.
"We feed off of (Patterson), no doubt," said East Webster head coach Corey Stidham. "But it takes one through five."
Miguel Graham scored a game-high 18-points for the Wolverines, who rebounded in grand style from Tuesday's season-opening loss to Houston.
"We saw the other night that we were just kind of halfway going at times," said Stidham. "We weren't full-speed. We had a little heart-to-heart about that and I think they came out tonight to start the game and set that straight."
Lenny Taylor led Ackerman with 15 points.
Both teams continue tournament play today.
Ackerman faces Eupora at 5:30 p.m. and East Webster battles West Oktibbeha at 8:30 p.m.
Stidham hopes his club can build off of Thursday's performance.
"Wins can cure a lot of things," said Stidham. "We needed a 'W' in a bad way. We've got to build on that. We've got our hands full (tonight)."