By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
The Wonder Lady Golden Lions have made a habit of making basketball look easy during the 2015-2016 hoops season. So imagine a lot of people’s surprise when Wonder played its closest game of the season last Friday night at Lehr Arena in the 2015-2016 7A/6A-East district final against Marion. The Lady Pats got within two points at 40-38 with 13.6 seconds left, but a pair of Aryiah Hazley free throws would put the Lady Golden Lions ahead 42-38, which would double as the final. The win clinched a 22-0 regular season run for Wonder, including a perfect 14-0 mark in the 7A/6A-East district, including a pair of wins in the tournament. 8th-grader Tashlee Milow won the tournament’s most outstanding player award for her efforts during Wonder’s two-game run to the title. Milow came up with a game-high 22 points in the final and 10 rebounds against Marion to win the title. “I’m so proud of this crew,” said Wonder head coach Kwame Brown. “We played so many great teams this year. We beat North Little Rock, we beat Annie Camp, we beat Earle. 22-0. Wow.” Wonder had handled Marion in two previous meetings this season, and looked to be on their way to doing the same in the final. The Lady Golden Lions took its first double-digit lead (24-13) of the game with 1:32 remaining in the third quarter on a lay-up by Milow. However, Marion would get within 28-21 after three quarters after 8th-grade guard Joi Montgomery scored six quick points to end the quarter. The final stanza saw Wonder take its biggest lead of the night at 36-24 following a Milow stickback lay-up with 2:27 left. However, Marion would rip off of quick 7-2 run to get within 38-31 with 1:18 remaining. The run would grow to 11-3 and Marion was down just 39-35 with 40 seconds remaining. A Milow free throw would grow the lead back to five points, but a three-pointer by Marion’s Kaia Williams got the Lady Pats within two points before Hazley’s free throws clinched the win for Wonder. “I’m so proud of my team right now,” said Marion head coach Sara Lehman. “We played our hearts out. The first half, we didn’t play very well and that killed us. Second half, we played our butts off, and that’s the result you get when you play your butts off.” That first half featured 14 Marion turnovers, while Wonder made eight of their 20 field attempts. Those two stats conspired to give the Lady Golden Lions a 17-9 lead at halftime. Brown was surely proud of the district title, but the undefeated season may be historic, says the coach. “I’m not an historian, but a lot of people are saying that may have been the first one (undefeated girls team) from West Memphis,” said Brown. “They went wire-to-wire. They’ve really been tested and I have to give it up to them, and they’re so young, I start three 8th-graders. You have to give it up to them.” Marion was led by Montgomery’s 18 points, nine from Keiana Delaney and six from Williams. Mikiya McAdory paced the Lady Pats with 10 points, while also hitting for two points. Wonder got Milow’s 22 points, while Hazley and Tiera Bradley added eight points apiece. Bradley sniffed a double-double as the Wonder center also blocked eight shots and posted 10 rebounds.