February 21, 2011 7:32:00 AM
The contents of this article have been modified since its original posting.
STARKVILLE -- Kiandria Patterson heard the doubters.
Critics of the Columbus High School girls'' basketball team said a team with eight sophomores and one senior couldn''t live up to the lofty goal of winning a district championship.
After all, the Lady Falcons had never won a district title and have struggled annually to overtake Tupelo and Starkville in Class 6A, Region 2.
Until Friday night.
The Lady Falcons got 29 from Patterson and beat Tupelo 60-44 to clinch their second district trophy in program history.
Not bad for a team that people deemed "overrated."
"We can play though adversity, and we can play on the big stage," Patterson said. "This is for our whole school, the whole Falcon nation."
Columbus (14-5) finishes the season with three wins over Starkville, whom they beat Tuesday in the opening round, and two over Tupelo.
They''ll face the loser of Horn Lake-Southaven at home on Monday for the start of the 6A state tournament.
Patterson''s performance Friday caps an amazing performance in the 6A-2 tournament, as she finished with 59 total points in two games.
Against the Lady Wave, Patterson fought through fatigue that concerned head coach Yvette Hairston as early as the first quarter.
"She''s gonna get tired, I can see it" Hairston remarked from the bench.
Patterson, though, said she didn''t feel the effects from the fast-paced tempo the Lady Falcons run until the third quarter.
By then, fatigue was irrelevant because she was already locked in.
The Lady Falcons closed the second quarter on a 10-0 run aided by six points from Patterson, and led by as many as 13 in the third quarter.
Tupelo (18-12) cut the CHS lead to five, 38-33, just a minute into the fourth quarter, but a 3-pointer from Maggie Proffitt and back-to-back buckets from Patterson helped extend Columbus'' lead to 49-37 with three minutes to play.
At some point, Patterson expected Tupelo to double-team her. Especially with Proffitt initially struggling to knock down shots.
Patterson routinely had open jumpers from the top corner of the lane.
"I just knew how they was playing me, kind of playing up on me," Patterson said. "I just knew if I got the first step, that would open up the lane and leave me that shot every time."
Tupelo head coach Stephanie Murphy said instead of double-teaming Patterson, her team''s goal was to deny her the ball.
She was disappointed to see little effort toward keeping the ball away from Patterson and denying her the left-hand -- Patterson''s strong hand.
"We wanted to force her right and contest the shot," Murphy said. "We let her go left all night long. That was the game plan in place, but you couldn''t tell with the way we responded."
Murphy lamented seven missed layups from point-blank range, which if made could have given former Lady Falcon Chy Cunningham more of a spark.
Cunningham led Tupelo with 15 points, but had just two points in the fourth quarter.
"We tried to not box her so much, but every time she got the ball make sure we had somebody in her face," Hairston said of Cunningham. "We know that she''s an emotional player, and if she gets off to a hot start it''s hard to stop her. We stopped her early, tried to contain her a little bit so she wouldn''t get loose out there."
The Lady Falcons got 10 points from Kameron Corrothers and 11 points from Proffitt.
However, CHS got just two bench points.
If they expect to make a deep run in the 6A state tournament, they''ll need more production in case an opponent neutralizes Patterson.
As the team''s second-leading scorer, Proffitt is a logical choice to lead that effort. When both Proffitt and Patterson are hitting shots, players like Corrothers and point guard Toni Petty find easier opportunities to score.
The fact Columbus hasn''t had a game where points have been evenly distributed is actually encouraging to Hairston.
"Maggie, the last couple of games, has not had a great game," Hairston said. "But at the end of the game, she always steps up and makes her free throws and makes big shots. We''re looking for her and the rest of the girls to step up.
"Next time we play, it may be Maggie''s night. It may be Toni''s night. We haven''t had that complete game yet, so it''ll be exciting when we do."