January 6, 2010 11:16:00 PM
Madison Ford had a right to be tired.
Playing on back-to-back nights after returning from a bout with mononucleosis can be considered too much to ask for any basketball player.
That''s what Ford has done for the Heritage Academy girls team.
The senior was strong, especially down the stretch against Starkville Academy, as the Lady Patriots rallied for a 44-41 victory against the Lady Volunteers.
After scoring 29 points in a 58-45 loss to Oak Hill Academy on Monday night, Ford scored 17 points against Starkville Academy.
Ford, who missed four games due to her illness, has gotten most of her energy back. She felt fine against Oak Hill, but admitted feeling a little fatigued against the Lady Volunteers.
"I could tell I wasn''t back at 100 percent yet, but hopefully I will be," Ford said. "There were times when I got tired and it was hard to make myself run back down the court, but it wasn''t too bad."
Heritage coach Bruce Allsup calls Ford "a special player" and said her ability to overcome adversity speaks volumes about what type of player and person she is.
"That''s why she''s a finalist for the Wendy''s Heisman Trophy because she''s got that kind of character and determination," Allsup said. "She''s just a winner."
Not only was Ford asked to provide points, but Allsup added more responsibility by asking her to bring the basketball up the floor.
He thought it was a matchup to take advantage of against Starkville Academy.
"With Madison bringing the ball up, we got a lot of cuts off the wing," Allsup said. "When we made the passes, she got a lot of easy cuts and made the big basket for us to help us win the ballgame."
With the Lady Volunteers holding a slim 33-32 lead after the third quarter, Ford scored seven points in the fourth quarter to help the Lady Patriots take the victory.
"The critical part of the game was in the fourth quarter," Starkville Academy coach Glenn Schmidt said. "We couldn''t keep a lead and kept turning the ball over. They did what they had to do to win. They scored when they had to and kept us from scoring. My hat is off to them."
Unlike Monday when Ford didn''t get very much help from teammates, there were other Lady Patriots who stepped up their game to contribute.
Christibeth Nelson (11 points) and Stephanie Cruse (10 points) also scored in double digits for Heritage (6-10, 2-4 MPSA Division I-AAA North).
Ford said "we all played awesome together" and the Lady Patriots responded to a postgame challenge from Allsup after the Oak Hill loss.
As disappointed as Allsup was on Monday, he was beaming with pride on Tuesday.
"That might be the best I''ve had a team to play, effort-wise, in my 23 years of coaching," Allsup said. "I can''t be prouder of a group of girls.
"We got tired in the second half, but that''s what''s so encouraging. We had some people tired and hurting, but we showed so much guts and it was so rewarding."
Schmidt said it appeared that Starkville Academy beat Heritage in almost every area but the final score. The Lady Volunteers held the rebounding edge (21-16) and out-shot their hosts (43 percent to 32 percent).
There were 16 turnovers for Starkville Academy and Schmidt believed 10 of those were unforced and came at critical times in the second half.
Ford noticed an increase in intensity which pushed the Lady Patriots over the top.
"We realized we had to pick it up and start playing harder," Ford said. "(Allsup) pushed us and encouraged us to give it all we had and I think we really did (Tuesday) night."
Leading the way for the Lady Volunteers (13-9, 4-3) were Anna Prestridge (11 points) and Tiffany Huddleston (10 points).
n Heritage 67, Starkville Academy 40 (B): The Patriots broke open the game in the second half.
After taking a 19-14 lead at the end of the first quarter and stretching it to 35-22 at halftime, Heritage out-scored Starkville Academy 20-13 in the third quarter. The Volunteers were held to five points in the fourth quarter.
"When we get down big, we don''t have the makeup to come back from big deficits and that was the case tonight," Starkville Academy coach Clay Stringer said.
It was the second win in as many nights for the Patriots (10-4, 4-2).
"We''re still a work in progress," Allsup said. "We have a chance to be good by the end of the year. I''ve been on them about their intensity. We don''t always play with the intensity we need to play with, but we are getting better with that.
"Right now the boys are second (in the conference) because we''ve got a win against Pillow so that''s big for us. To finish second, you like your matchups when it comes time (for postseason)."
Tyler White scored 20 points for Heritage, while Will Swedenburg added 12 points and Will West contributed 10 points.
Adam Crittenden, Austin Marsh, Patrick Jones and J.R. Gerhart had seven points each for the Volunteers (1-18, 0-7).
Jordan Graham came back from missing 10 games with a broken hand to score six points for Starkville Academy.
Anonymous commented at 1/7/2010 5:49:00 PM:
Actually, the Lady Patriots had 25 rebounds to the Lady Volunteers' 18. The Lady Pats shot 35%, compared to Starkville's 43%, but Heritage hit 75% of their 12 free throws, compared to SA's 43% of 7 attempts, and 60% of their 3pt shots, compared to SA's 22% 3pt shooting.
If SA's coach wants to make a big deal of their 16 TO's, maybe HA's 17 TO's should be mentioned. By the way, HA had 11 steals, so I don't think 10 of SA's 16 TO's were "unforced."
This was an exciting rivalry game, a great game for Heritage, and a great team effort which may be the start of something big, if they can keep up that energy and keep playing like a team.
anotherparent commented at 1/7/2010 9:10:00 PM:
Wow !! I would have never believed a coach or scorekeeper would have written a comment like this without signing their real name. Anonymous ??? Really coach, you should not hate on Coach Schmidt like that. Jealousy at the highest level. Coach calls it like she sees it and after her many successful years as a coach she pretty much knows what HER team needs to work on to win. As far as the article not mentioning HA's 17 TOs, well, that would be something you would need to take up with Mr. Smith who wrote the article and quit your hating on Coach Schmidt. Tacky, tacky, tacky in every way imaginable.