Marion escapes Searcy, clinches spot to state
By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
SEARCY — Marion got a bit of March Madness on a cold February evening in Searcy last Friday night. The Lady Pats clinched a state playoff berth when junior guard Tyquesha Selvy scored on a lay-up with 0.8 seconds left in regulation, beating the Lady Lions 55-53 in the process. “It was exciting, because our girls finally played two halves,” said Marion head coach Shunda Johnson. “We’ve been asking for it all season. Just give us two good halves. We fought until the very end.” The Selvy sequence sent Marion to the Class 6A state tournament for the fourth straight season under Johnson. With 5.8 seconds remaining, senior forward Tei Boston attacked the basket and drew a foul with the score tied at 53-all. Searcy head coach Michelle Birdsong called a timeout before Boston’s first free throw, which the senior missed, and before Boston’s second free throw, which also rimmed out. “Coach Birdsong did a good job of icing Tei there,” Johnson joked after the game. The ball was rebounded by Searcy, and eventually found its way to the Lady Lions’ star guard, Keke Broadway, who scored a team-high 15 points, cut upcourt, but went to dribble left when Marion senior Mya McCray poked the ball away, where it was deflected off of Boston’s leg. Selvy was in the right place at the right time, on the left block of the lane and the scrappy guard scored with less than a second remaining, setting off a wild celebration by the Marion bench when the clock hit all zeroes. “I don’t really know what happened,” said Johnson. “I’m looking at the clock and Mya knocks the ball away, it bounces off Boston’s knee and Tyquesha is there. She had a sense of urgency too, and was able to score the lay-up.” Selvy, affectionately called “Lil’ Bit” by her teammates and coaches, scored four points in the game. For most of the first half, it didn’t appear as though Marion would need any late heroics to take down the victory. The Lady Pats led 29-24 at halftime, and had limited Searcy to just seven of 25 shooting from the field in the first two quarters. However, Searcy heated up from three-point range in the third, making three such shots, while also outboarding Marion 10-3 in the frame, while also forcing five Lady Pat turnovers to tie the game at 39-39 entering the fourth quarter. That final frame saw plenty of drama as the teams combined for five ties and six lead changes, capped off by Selvy’s game-winner. Marion clinches at worst the No. 3 seed from the 6A-East in this season’s Class 6A state basketball tournament, to be held in Russellville. The Lady Pats still have two games left against 6A-East competition as they host Mountain Home on Tuesday night before finishing their regular season up in Jonesboro on February 26. Marion lost their first meetings with those schools, while they completed a season sweep of Searcy on Friday, giving them the tiebreaker in the event of the schools finishing with the same record. Marion (9-14 overall, 2-8 7A/6A-East, 2-2 against 6A-East) was led by Ebony Day’s 15 points and eight rebounds, while Boykins posted 13 points of her own and three assists. McCray and Jakyya Clay scored six points apiece. Searcy got 15 from Broadway, 14 from Allie Brown and seven from Arabriahm Mack. Marion hosts Mountain Home on Tuesday night with the girls varsity game tipping at approximately 6 p.m.