On Wednesday, fans got what they wanted as the Ruleville boys and girls basketball teams tangled with the East Side boys and girls teams in the North Central Athletic Conference Tournament.
The girls game lived up to the hype as both teams fought tooth and nail through regulation and into the overtime period where East Side managed to pull out the 38-35 victory.
The boys game was full of excitement and high-flying action on both sides, but in the end the Ruleville Tigers were too much for the East Side Trojans as they walked away with a 57-45 win.
The girls game was one East Side head coach Jaboria Walker would like to soon forget.
"Tonight was a tough one for us,” Walker said. “We couldn't buy a basket. I tried to keep the team motivated and confident throughout the game to let them know to keep at it and eventually something good was going to happen. At the end of the night, it came down to free throws and defense.”
Ruleville head coach Chiquita Bracey felt her team gave a good effort, but had some mistakes. She felt the overall result was on her.
"This weight of this loss is on my shoulders," said Bracey. “There were some things I could have done better. We had been blowing people out so I look at this as a learning experience for my girls. This loss will really teach us how to play in tight ball games."
The Lady Tigers jumped out on the Trojanettes 11-4 in the first quarter, but the Trojanettes battled back and outscored Ruleville 11-6 in the second quarter to pull to within two-points at 17-15 at halftime.
In the third quarter with 2:30 left, the Lady Tigers led East Side 29-21 and looked to have control of the ball game, but the Trojanettes scored seven unanswered points to pull to within one point at 29-28 going into the final quarter.
Locked in at 32-32 with under two minutes left in the ball game, both teams had chances, but turnovers and good defense from both sides proved to be the force that kept the score knotted.
At the end of regulation, Ruleville's Robrieka Finn had a good look, but the shot rimmed out and East Side's LaShyra Cotton pulled down the rebound to send the game into overtime.
In OT, Cotton scored the first basket to give the Trojanettes a 34-32 lead. Ruleville's Charshayla Morgan scored for the Tigers to tie the game at 34-34.
Later in the game. Morgan was fouled, but missed both free throws with 1:59 left in OT.
Following a pair of turnovers, the Trojanettes managed to take the lead again when Keisha Cotton snagged a rebound and put it back in with 1:20 left in the game for a 36-34 East Side lead.
The Lady Tigers made the score 36-35 with a minute left in OT when Brunetta Cockrell hit a free throw.
With 30 seconds remaining, LaShyra was fouled and stepped to the line and knocked down both free throws for a 38-35 East Side advantage. Shakira Singleton had a good look at the end of the game, but the three-point attempt missed and the Trojanettes secured the victory.
Despite the loss, Bracey was proud of her team's effort especially the play of Morgan.
"She really came out to play tonight,” Bracey said. “She played really hard and was a force inside for us. She did what I've wanted her to do all year. I'm proud of her.”
Morgan finished the night with 10 points to lead Ruleville, followed by Cockrell with eight points, Singleton with six points and Finn with five. Ruleville is now 8-2.
LaShyra led East Side with 15 points, four rebounds, five steals and four blocks. Carvacier Sanders scored 13 points with eight rebounds, and Keisha scored five points with seven rebounds to round out East Side’s attack.
With the win, the Trojanettes (9-2) will now face the John F. Kennedy Lady Hornets in the championship game of the NCAC at 5 p.m. Friday in Ruleville.
In the boys game, the East Side Trojans took a 20-18 lead into the locker room at halftime, but at the end of the third quarter the Tigers were back on top 36-31.
The fourth quarter was all Tigers as they dominated the final period of action, outscoring the Trojans 21-14 for the victory.
Tyquan Rule led the Tigers with 15 points, followed by Demarcus Bracey with 11 points, Xavier Appleberry with 10 points and Radarius Jefferson with nine points in the win.
Perry Henry and John Paul Davis led East Side with 15 points each.
The Tigers (9-1) will now face Coahoma Aggie High on Friday at 6:30 in the championship game of the NCAC in Ruleville.