They were 4-10 through November and December, and their chances of success didn’t appear very high. When the month of January began, the Lady Eagles started to come around. When Friday night’s championship game of the Region 3-2A girls basketball tournament here at Leland High School began, West Bolivar was looking to bring home the gold as the team faced the J.Z. George Lady Jaguars.
The Lady Eagles and Lady Jaguars battled each other in a physical, defensive showdown. When the sound of the buzzer blared through the gymnasium, the Lady Eagles held the region title trophy in the air after securing a thrilling 33-31 victory over the Lady Jaguars. The Lady Eagles have now won 10 of their last 14 games and have evened their record to 14-14. West Bolivar will host Okolona in the first round of the 2A North Half Playoffs on Monday at 7 p.m. in Rosedale.
The Lady Eagles have four seniors on the roster but most of the key players have been juniors, sophomores and freshmen.
West Bolivar head coach Willie Thomas said the team has been playing with a good attitude the entire season.
“Our kids play hard, and they have that no quit attitude,” Thomas said. “They’ve turned out to be a pleasure to work with because they do work hard. You have to continue to encourage them that things will turn around, and it turned around in January.”
The Lady Eagles trailed 20-19 at halftime. Trailing 22-19, the Lady Eagles battled hard and went on a 5-0 run with Jermelia Silas scoring four of those points. When the third quarter came to an end, West Bolivar led 24-22.
After J.Z. George tied the game 24-24, West Bolivar kept battling as the defense made life difficult for J.Z. George. Silas, Ashley Cooper, Troyledria Usry and Tra’Kala Robinson scored some key points in the period to spearhead a 9-2 run to make the score 33-26 with less than two minutes remaining. J.Z. George went on a 5-0 run at the end of the game, but couldn’t pull out the win.
“We knew it was going to be tough,” Thomas said about the game against J.Z. George. “They are disciplined, and they’re not going to quit. We are very similar.”
Silas, a freshman, led West Bolivar with 14 points and 10 rebounds, followed by freshman Rachael Hudson with nine points and three assists.
“Rachael is strong minded and tough as nails,” Thomas said. “She’s cut her turnovers down almost in half in the last month. I think that’s her figuring out. Silas is a double-double machine. She’s going to crash the boards, get her put backs and run the floor.”
Shadesha Harris led the Lady Jaguars with 13 points in the losing effort.