JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - It’s a hard pill to swallow.
After bulldozing through opponents all season, the Lady Wildcats fell to Clinton 63-51 in the 6A semifinals for girls basketball.
After outscoring Clinton in the first period, the Lady Cats appeared sluggish in the second period on both sides of the ball. Clinton outscored Meridian 22-9 in the second period which was the largest scoring margin across all four periods.
Meridian shot 24% from the field in the first half and allowed Clinton to score 12 points off of 12 turnovers.
The Achilles heel for Meridian throughout the game was 3-point shooting. The Lady Cats went 0-13 from beyond the arc in the first half and would finish making only 4-24.
Head Coach Deneshia Faulkner shared postgame why her team had such shooting woes.
“Well for one it was nerves. We didn’t stay true to who we are offensively or defensively and we took a lot of 3s that were out of our range," Faulkner said. "I was hoping we were just dealing with some jitters that were going to be a quick phase but unfortunately for some of us it kind of lasted all four quarters.”
While Meridian couldn’t make any 3s in the first half, they would begin the third period with three in a row including back-to-back from sophomore Debreasha Powe.
With under three minutes to play in the final period, Meridian would trail only by six following a steal from Powe who passed it off to senior Ti’ian Boler for a layup.
Although it looked like the Lady Cats might complete the second-half comeback, missing intensity on defense caused Clinton to pull away again in the final two minutes. They added on 8 more points while Meridian went scoreless. The Lady Arrows would win 63-51, ending Meridian's championship hopes.
“We got here. We could have went further….we really could have went further," Boler said postgame. "But the fact that we got this far is a blessing.”
Senior guard Tyanna Clark, who finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds, shared postgame that she was proud of how far the team had come.
“We worked so hard this year. We’ve never been this far so even though we lost we still took a win," Clark said. "We’ve been working hard and I’m very proud of my team, proud of myself, proud of the coaches proud of everybody.”
Making it to the semifinals proves that the goal of winning a state championship is in reach for the Lady Cats and that the bar has now been set high.
“Well it definitely sets a standard," Coach Faulkner said. "We made it to the final four so we look to exceed that next year.”
“Remember this game and don’t take it for granted," Boler added. "Talent doesn’t get you anywhere. You’ve got to put something on the talent.”
Powe finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists for the Lady Cats.
Boler, who will be playing at Jackson State next year, had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lady Cats finish the season with a 29-2 record.