CLINTON, Miss. (WTOK) - The Lamar Raiders girls’ basketball team had an opportunity to avenge a number of prior losses Saturday afternoon. The Lady Raiders fell shy of the MAIS AAA DII championship a week ago and lost in their last meeting against their opponent, Leake Academy, in December.
Lamar’s 45-41 win over the Lady Rebels in Saturday’s MAIS Overall Basketball Tournament championship game - the first title of this kind at Lamar - alleviated some of the sting of those losses. However, it might have been those prior shortcomings that motivated the team this past week.
Lamar senior forward, Ambreah Waters, was named to the tournament team and mentioned how she and her teammates responded to the loss after state.
“The loss to Simpson at state, it was a tough one,” Waters said. “But it just – it lit a fire in us and a hunger to want to come back and win overall because we knew we should have won at state but we knew we’d have to work hard so we just used that as motivation.”
Junior guard Isabella Sherer echoed Waters’ sentiments.
“Because we lost in state, we just really, really wanted to come back and show people...how much of an upset it was that Simpson beat us,” Sherer said.
The six point loss to Simpson influenced not just the motivation in the locker room, but how head coach Josh Sherer approached the Overall Tournament.
“I feel like I overthought it and just tried to do too much and we just came back to this tournament, simplified things,” he said. “Got back to our roots, played man-to-man basketball and it’s really what sustained us in the end – our ability to guard. If anybody watched this tournament and watched the defensive performance, it was impressive.”
The Lady Raiders had to win three consecutive games in order to earn a berth in the title game where they would face a Leake Academy team they had seen twice in the regular season – each team winning on its home court.
“We know that they’re aggressive and a fast team and that we had to focus on defense and locking down shooters and hustling back in transition,” said Waters. “Beating them at home was a huge thing and we knew that on the road, it was going to be a tough game. We came up short but we worked hard and we knew that if we saw them again, what we had to do in order to win.”
Coach Sherer did not have his team prepare any differently for their third bout with Leake Academy. The Lady Raiders allowed just 10 first half points en route to the championship, an exclamation point to his team’s emphasis on defense.
“There was no huge adjustments, he said. “We knew they were so good throughout their team and their bench. They could all shoot it and score. There were no special things we could do. We had to match up with them and guard them and go play ball.”
Lamar finishes the season with a 32-8 record.