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Quitman High School Athletics

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Lady Panthers Advance to Semifinals

LADY PANTHERS ADVANCE TO SEMIFINALS

JACKSON — Southern Mississippi commit Shonte Hailes decided her season wasn’t ending Thursday night. Hailes and the Quitman High School girls basketball team entered the fourth period trailing Byhalia High School 37-28 in the MHSAA Class 4A state quarterfinals at Jackson State. After tallying just nine points in the first three quarters, Hailes erupted for 11 points in the fourth quarter — including a key trey as time expired — to help send the Lady Panthers into overtime. From there, Hailes added seven more points to her total to finish with 27 as Quitman came away a 60-52 victory in a game that looked like it would be the final one for the 2015-16 Lady Panthers. “It was huge,” Quitman head coach Gina Skelton said of Hailes’ night. “In the first half, her shots were a little short, but I told her at halftime to keep believing in herself and that they were going to fall. (I told her to) keep playing on the other end on defense and make the offense happen.” Hailes and teammate Chequira Bonner combined for 21 of Quitman’s 23 points in the final period. After Byhalia hit a field goal at the 6:48 mark, it wouldn’t hit another one again until 1:30 remaining as the Lady Panthers limited the Lady Indians to foul shots over the five-minute period. Meanwhile, Quitman used the full-court press against Byhalia, and when the offense began to wake up in the fourth quarter, that’s when the momentum began to shift, Hailes said. “Our shots weren’t falling, so Coach (Gina Skelton) told us to get to the rack, and we got to the rack and made our free throws and pressured the ball — that’s what we normally do,” Hailes said. Still, Quitman trailed by three with 11 seconds left after the Lady Indians’ Kavaci-A Johnson sank a basket to put them up 51-48. The Lady Panthers drove down the court, but no one would take a shot, forcing Skelton to call a time out and draw up a play with 1.8 seconds remaining. Of course, the ball was going to Hailes, and after the inbounds, the Lady Panthers found her on the perimeter with a good look, and as the buzzer went off, Hailes watched her first trey of the game go in and send her team into overtime. “I felt great, because that was my first shot from the arc, so when I knocked that down, I kind of gained my confidence back,” Hailes said. Skelton, however, said there wasn’t much drawing up that needed to be done in that timeout huddle to inbound the ball and get it to their standout player. “It is one of our throw-in plays we run a lot, so they already knew what to do,” Skelton said. In overtime, Hailes was 7 of 8 from the foul line, and Amber McKenzie chipped in with a field goal to give Quitman its 60 points. The Lady Panthers’ defense, meanwhile, limited the Lady Indians to just a field goal in the extra period. The Lady Panthers trailed 12-7 after one quarter and fell behind 21-11 with 4:40 left in the half. But Quitman finished the second quarter on a 10-2 run to make it 23-21 Byhalia at the break. The third quarter was a struggle for Quitman, as it managed just seven points while Byhalia scored 14 to take a nine-point advantage into the final period. Bonner scored 16 points for Quitman, and Sendreca Howard chipped in with nine. “I think this will give us a great momentum (boost) going into the semis,” Skelton said. Quitman (25-6) will play at 1:30 p.m. Monday against McComb High School.

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