On Saturday, these two teams battled for the Region 4-3A crown, but last night they battled for their playoff lives in two highly contested ball games.
Despite having their share of troubles on the hardwood, both East Side and Ruleville walked away victorious. Ruleville edged by the Kossuth Lady Aggies 64-61 in Ruleville, while East Side beat the Booneville Lady Blue Devils 62-46 at the D.M. Smith Gymnasium at East Side High School.
With the wins, both schools will now advance to the 3A North State Tournament, which will be held at Ripley High School beginning Thursday.
The Trojanettes (25-4) will play Charleston at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, and the Lady Tigers (18-7) will play the winner of the Nettleton-North Panola game at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Nettleton and North Panola will play at 6 p.m. tonight.
The Ruleville Central game with Kossuth was tight from the start with the Lady Tigers leading 25-22 going into halftime, but with 10 seconds left Kossuth's Darbie Coleman hit a three-point shot for a 25-25 tie at the break.
With the Lady Tigers holding on to a one-point lead with under three minutes left to play, Ruleville's Shakira Singleton broke free for a lay-up, but the ball rolled off the rim and Kossuth rebounded. With the ball, Bradley was fouled and went to the line and made both free throws for a 52-51 Kossuth lead.
Cockrell responded immediately with a basket to regain the lead at 53-52, but Coleman came right back and knocked down a three-point bucket for Kossuth to regain the lead at 55-53 with 2:30 left in the game.
Trailing by two, Cockrell came through again and tied the game at 55-55 with 2:10 remaining in the game.
The game continued with a back-and-forth pattern until Cockrell scored with 17 seconds lead to give Ruleville a 63-61 lead. On Kossuth's next possession, Singleton stole the ball away and was fouled. She made one free throw for a 64-61 lead with 4.4 seconds left on the clock and that was enough to put Ruleville over the top.
Cockrell finished with a team-high 29 points.
"Brunetta put us on her back and carried us tonight down the stretch. We needed everything she gave us tonight," Ruleville head coach Chiquita Bracey said..
Singleton aided the Lady Tigers with 13 points, followed by Finn with nine points.
In the other 3A showdown, the Trojanettes came out a bit sluggish in their offensive and defensive play, but turned things on in the second half to secure the victory.
The Trojanettes trailed the Lady Blue Devils 29-28 at halftime.
In the third quarter East Side turned up the defensive intensity and opened the period with a 14-0 run to take a 42-29 lead.
"We didn’t do too much in the first half,” East Side head coach Jaboria Walker said. “I give the girls the liberty to read and react to what they see out there and that got us in a little trouble. In the second half, we adjusted and played a lot better. We got back to playing solid basketball.”
Cotton led East Side with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Carvacier Sanders flirted with a triple-double as she scored 19 points with nine rebounds and nine steals, and Errica Blair added seven points with eight rebounds to aid the Trojanettes.