OXFORD — Foul trouble proved costly for the Coahoma County High School girls in the Class 2A state championship against Calhoun City at Ole Miss Friday.
The Lady Red Panthers (29-4, 10-0) had two athletes foul out down the stretch and lost 67-57 in overtime to the Lady Wildcats.
“Those girls are always talented,” said coach Derrick Moore. “It’s just that we can’t get over the hump of ourselves. We play teams that’s not better than us. We just can’t get over ourselves. Everybody can’t have that big game at one time.”
Senior forward Nakia Cheatham committed her fourth foul with 2.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter. CCHS trailed 45-39 going into the fourth and Moore kept one of his leading scorers Cheatham on the bench to save her for the stretch run.
With Cheatham on the bench, the Lady Red Panthers came back to take a 51-47 lead with 4:28 to play in the fourth quarter after senior guard Calysia Phillips, who led the team in scoring with 22 points, connected on a 2-pointer.
Cheatham entered the game with 3:21 remaining, but was called for an offensive foul with 3:02 to play. As a result, she fouled out of the game.
Senior wing Shakira Artis connected on a 3-pointer with 2:20 to play to extend the lead to 54-49, but Calhoun City came back to tie things up at 55-55 at the end of regulation.
Sophomore guard Nyriah Artis fouled out with 3:19 to play in overtime and the game tied 57-57.
“When we lost Nakia and then Nyriah was out, too, then that just left pretty much Calysia by herself,” Moore said. “We knew we were in trouble. We were just praying for the best, but we knew we were in trouble. When we went into overtime, we pretty much knew we were in trouble.”
Calhoun City scored the next 10 points unanswered.
CCHS trailed 31-26 at halftime.
The Lady Red Panthers committed 14 first half turnovers to Calhoun City’s 6, Cheatham had 5 turnovers in the half, while Phillips had 3.
When the game was finished, Calhoun City had 22 turnovers and CCHS had 1. The Lady Red Panthers had 14 steals. Phillips, who was also the C Spire 2A Scholar Athlete award winner for Coahoma County, had 7 steals, Nyriah Artis had 3, junior power forward Tyana McClenton had 2, and Shakira Artis and Cheatham had 1 each.
Cheatham finished with a double-double of 16 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 block and 1 steal. Shakira Artis had 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. Nyriah Artis had 4 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block and 3 steals. McClenton had 3 points, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Senior wing Brianna Ratliff had 2 points, 3 rebounds and 1 assist.
Looking ahead, Moore is not sure what his role coaching Coahoma County will be in 2020-21.
“Next year is here or there,” he said. “I’m not sure what my plans are next year.”
However, he does believe the Lady Red Panthers could continue to have success.
“The girls have a good shot at coming back,” Moore said.