Cross-county playoff battle goes to Winnsboro

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As with any high school championship match-up, there were many games within the game. The Lady Jackets fell to the Winnsboro Lady Raiders, 59-51 in the regional semifinal last Friday. The game had a bit of everything and will likely be regarded as one of the most hotly-contested in the regional tourney.

Winnsboro came out fast, scoring the first 10 points in 2.5 minutes. The Lady Raiders were eating up the Mineola press and pushing the ball to the hoop. 

Mineola finally got on the board via a Tiara Stephens free throw with 3:00 to play in the opening quarter. Two 3-pointers by Meghan Brewington, a Sabria Dean basket and a Jessiah Riley score stabilized the Lady Jackets. At the end of the first quarter Winnsboro held a 17-11 edge. 

The first quarter provided plenty of fast, physical action. It was nothing compared to the second period. 

Brewington opened the quarter with a 3-pointer, but it was Winnsboro that put together the most decisive run of the night. The Lady Raiders scored four consecutive driving lay-ups to take a 27-14 lead. 

Mineola called off the press, which was being exploited by the Lady Raiders, and went to work. The back and forth battle featured seven points from Riley, a 3-pointer from Jaiden Gardner, and scores from Brewington and Dean. Two controversial charging calls, one against each team, got the huge crowd even more energized. 

At half, Winnsboro was up by eight, 35-27.

Each team took the gloves off in the third quarter. It was full court action for eight solid minutes. Mineola threw everything it could at the Raiders, forcing two 10-second violations and a 5-second violation.  After the dust had settled, the Lady Jackets had closed within six. 

Despite ever-increasing desperation by the Jackets, the fourth quarter was a straight up draw, and the game went to Winnsboro. There were moments down the stretch when every Mineola fan in the gym just knew that the Lady Jackets were going to stage that late game rally for the win. It was just not to be. Winnsboro continued to attack until the final horn and thereby robbed Mineola of the chance to exploit the last minutes.

Dean led Mineola with 22 points with all but four in the second half. Brewington added 11 and Riley eight. Tahjae Black and Cyndi Butler joined Gardner with three apiece, while Stephens chipped in a free throw.

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