Choctaw County girls advance in 3A

Staff Writer

Hope was fading for the Choctaw County Lady Chargers and the prospects of their season continuing looked grim.

Choctaw County blew a 12-point fourth quarter lead against North Pontotoc and lost its leading scorer Brysa Maxwell with over 1:30 to play in the game. Coach Cory Guyton called timeout with time fading and regrouped his team.

“They came to me and they told me ‘coach, we’re going to win this game,’” Guyton said. “They got themselves together and they played hard and they brought it home.”

The Lady Chargers did just that. After La’Genesis Johnson put back a bucket under the goal as time expired to tie the game, Choctaw County went to overtime and claimed the victory 64-62.

It was a gutsy win for the Lady Chargers that moved them into the second round of the Class 3A playoffs and within a game of going to Jackson for the Elite 8. To get there, they had to overcome Maxwell’s loss late in the fourth quarter and a collapse by themselves.

Maxwell left the game with 26 points. She was carrying foul trouble with her for most of the game but still managed to take control for Choctaw County and score at a high rate.

That started in the first half when she had six of the team’s points in the opening quarter and North Pontotoc had a 11-8 advantage. the Lady Chargers came back and took its first lead when Maxwell had a three-point play that started an 11-2 run to go up 22-16.

As had been the case most of the night, when they struggled to find offense, Maxwell delivered. Leading 24-19 with 0.9 seconds left in the half, Choctaw County tossed the ball into Maxwell in the corner who fired up a 3-pointer, made it, and was fouled. The four-point play made it 28-19 at the half and Maxwell had 16 points.

The lead got to 10 points by the end of the third quarter with a 7-0 run by the Lady Chargers, but Maxwell continued to struggle with fouls. She eventually fouled out of the game as North Pontotoc was making a run and things started to turn.

A technical foul appeared to sink the Lady Chargers. North Pontotoc hit four free throws and then a basket to turn a two-point deficit into a two-point lead with 16 seconds remaining.

With Maxwell out, it was Johnson’s game from there. She got the basketball in the post, missed one shot around the rim, missed another. The third time was the charm as the buzzer sounded.

“It was a scary experience," Johnson said. "I thought it wasn’t going in but with God all things are possible. I’m just happy it went in. Everybody encouraged each other and we stepped our game up a little bit.”
Johnson extended the game in overtime where she fouled out. Guyton’s bench and Lakyshia Mitchell responded as they took the lead for good and won the game.

“I’ve got trust in my bench," Guyton said. "During the year, my bench got playing time and they showed they could step up in particular games. I’m proud of the team for the overall effort.”

With Maxwell’s 26 points, she was joined in double figures by Johnson with 18 and Mitchell with 14.

The Lady Chargers (22-10) will host round two of the playoffs on Friday at 7 p.m. when Ruleville comes to town. It’s another big opportunity for Choctaw County, but Johnson and her teammates will enjoy this one if only for a day or so.

“It feels great because it’s the first time in school history that it’s happened,” Johnson said. “I just want to thank God for letting it happen.”