RULEVILLE — The Ruleville Central Tigers and Lady Tigers took care of business here Thursday in the semifinal round of the 3-3A Region Basketball Tournament.
The Tigers squeaked by the Yazoo County Panthers 49-46 while the Lady Tigers had to go into overtime to defeat the Lady Panthers 59-52.
Both teams advance to play in tonight’s championship round. The Lady Tigers (15-10) will take on the Humphreys County Cowgirls at 7 p.m. while the Tigers (19-9) will follow against Amanda Elzy.
The Lady Tigers struggled in the early part of the contest against the Lady Panthers, but good defense, a strong performance from Jacoriah Bracey, timely baskets from Bre’Ana Brandon and big rebounds from Makevia Shaw helped get things going for Ruleville.
In the third, the Lady Tigers took their first lead of the ball game following a 12-2 run where Bracey scored six of those points. Brandon added four and Shaw chipped in two to give the team a 35-29 lead.
The Lady Panthers clawed their way back into the contest and in the fourth quarter held a 46-40 lead with under 40 seconds remaining in the game.
Trailing by six points, the Tigers went to work led by Bracey who scored on a layup with 32 seconds on the clock to make the score 46-42.
The Lady Tigers forced a turnover as Bracey came up with a steal, took the shot, but missed. Shaw, fortunately, was on the weak side of the basket and was able to grab the rebound and score the putback for a 46-44 game with 15 seconds remaining.
The Lady Panthers were able to get the ball in, but Ruleville’s Shaw was able to tie the ball up and get a jump ball call with the possession in Ruleville’s favor.
With the possession and 6.8 seconds remaining, there was only one person in the gym that would get the ball and everyone knew it.
Out of the timeout, Bracey broke free and got the ball. She slashed to the basket and as time expired the sophomore guard lived up to her nickname as the “Jordan Barbie” and tied the game at 46-46 to send it into overtime.
In OT, the Lady Tigers outscored the Lady Panthers 13-6. Bracey had seven of the team’s 13 points to claim a 59-52 win.
Bracey finished with 36 points. Shaw had eight and Brandon chipped in with seven points.
In the late game, the Tigers came out on fire led by Phabian Carter, who poured in 14 points in the opening quarter to lead the Tigers to a 16-5 lead heading into the second.
In the second quarter, the Panthers came alive and opened the period with a 10-1 run closing the Tigers’ lead to 17-15. Ruleville led the Panthers 23-17 at halftime.
The teams battled it tooth and nail in the third quarter ending the session with the score tied at 34-34.
In the final period, both teams made their move in an attempt to take over the ball game.
Yazoo went up 43-41 with 1:48 on the clock, but Ruleville’s Joseph Perez scored on a layup to tie the game at 43-43 with a 1:35 remaining in regulation.
Following a miss from Yazoo, the Tigers raced up court and Pierre Pruitt was fouled while making a layup. Pruitt missed the free throw, but Artavius Clark was there for one of his 20 rebounds and two of his 14 points to give Ruleville a 47-43 lead.
Yazoo County knocked down two free throws and off a steal was able to connect on another free throw with 7.5 seconds left in the game for a 47-46 score.
The Panthers fouled Clark with 5.1 seconds left and the senior stepped to the line with ice water in his veins and nailed both free throws for a 49-46 score. Yazoo attempted one last attempt but missed and the Tigers took home the victory.
Carter finished with a team-high 15 points, but the star of the night was Clark who finished with 14 points and 20 rebounds. Pruitt chipped in with seven.