Lady Pats back to .500 after Searcy win
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
Moments before tip-off against Searcy, Marion Lady Patriot basketball players Jakyya Clay, Ebony Day, Destiny Day, Shaunette Stewart and Tyquesha Selvy belted out the National Anthem to fans at Patriot Arena. After the live performance, that crew teamed up to pick up a key win against the Lady Lions. “They did their own arrangement for that,” said Marion head coach Shunda Johnson of the moving rendition of the song. “They practiced that everywhere. Worked on it at practice, on the bus. I bet they’ve worked on it for two months, but it paid off.” Marion (8-8 overall, 1-2 7A/6A-East) led by as many as 11 points on two different occasions in the game, before clinching a 63-56 final decision. The win against Searcy had added significance for Marion as the game was the Lady Pats’ first outing against a 6A-East opponent after games against 7A-East teams West Memphis and Cabot. Just three of the four 6A-East teams will make the Class 6A state tournament in Russellville. The other two 6A-East schools are Jonesboro and Mountain Home. “We needed that win bad,” said Johnson simply. “We did a great job of finding the openings and finally finishing some shots at the basket. I’m very proud of Jakyya Clay tonight because she did a great job tonight.” Clay led all scorers with 23 points, while also posting 6 rebounds. Selvy caught up with a game-high 9 rebounds and 4 assists, while also scoring 4 points. Senior Tei Boston hit for 14 points and 3 rebounds for Marion. Searcy got 17 points from Keke Broadway, 15 from Allie Brown and 12 from Anterious Mack. Perhaps the most significant quarter of the game was the third period. Searcy led 29-27 at halftime and Marion had hit just 12 of their 29 shots in the first half. However, Marion’s defense came alive in the third quarter when the hosts went to a full-court press. The Lady Pats outscored the Lady Lions 22-11 in that period thanks, while forcing 4 turnovers and winning the rebounding battle in that stanza 13-4. “We want to play the passing lanes a little better and we always want to get more deflections,” explained Johnson. “I felt like if we could make our defense our offense, then we’d be a little more successful.” After three, Marion led 49-40, but Searcy had one, last run left in them. The Lady Lions got within 5 points, with the ball late in the fourth quarter, but a missed jump shot was corralled by Selvy and Marion made 4 of their final 6 free throws to close the win out. Marion remains in the 6A-East on Tuesday night when they travel to play Mountain Home. The two teams played at the Greene County Tech Tournament in early December and the Lady Pats won. Since that game, Mountain Home has won 9 of their last 10 outings, including a win against a strong North Little Rock team at home last week. Mountain Home swept the season series against Marion last season, en route to a No. 2 seed in the Class 6A state tournament.