West Lowndes High School’s Edmariah Sherrod attempts a shot in traffic Monday night against Sebastopol. Photo by: Chris McDill/Special to The Dispatch
February 20, 2018 11:39:31 AM
For the West Lowndes High School girls basketball team to sustain a successful playoff run, coach Takia Bozeman asked senior guard Ariel Boswell to raise her level of play to lead the Lady Panthers to Jackson.
Boswell scored 11 points, played striking defense, and gave Bozeman everything she asked for Monday to help West Lowndes beat Sebastopol 57-43 in the first round of the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 1A State tournament.
"She did a good job," Bozeman said. "She scored the ball and slowed the game down when I needed her to. That's what I expect a leader to do."
Boswell, Takara Givens, and Shynice Watt were a trio of trouble for Sebastopol. The battle was upfront, while points were scored in the trenches. The chemistry helped the Lady Panthers pounce first and open a 19-8 lead in the first quarter.
"I'm going to play hard for this team until I get to where I want to be," Boswell said.
The Lady Panthers' defense kept the Bobcats from finding a rhythm while Boswell, Givens, and Watt helped set the pace on offense. West Lowndes' full-court press helped force 12 turnovers in the first quarter.
"Once they get going and getting along, passing the ball and everyone's playing defense we play really well," Bozeman said. "We played hard. Every loose ball had our name on it."
Givens added 14 points to sustain the offense that helped the Panthers cruise to the postseason win.
"I stepped up more like my coach wanted me to," Givens said. "We should win every game like that. We have to play hard and play together."
A fouling frenzy stopped the Lady Panthers' rhythm on offense and enabled the Bobcats' Alley Moulds to keep her team in range. The Bobcats' crowding zone defense pushed Givens and the Panthers to the perimeter.
"We started lacking, and that's how they come back," Givens said. "We have to keep pushing and holding the defense."
Late surges from Sebastopol's Krystal White and Haven Moorhead had 13 points each in an attempt to erase a 20-point deficit. While the Lady Panthers claimed a win, Bozeman said they must keep the aggression for the entire game to win the Class 1A title.
"We need to play better defense," Bozeman said. "Even though it was good, we need to pick up for the level of competition."
If Boswell, Givens, and Watt can keep the team in control, the Lady Panthers have much to look forward. As a No. 1 seed, West Lowndes will play host to McAdams at 7 p.m. Friday.
"If they can keep playing solid defense, we'll make it to Jackson." Bozeman said.
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