It may have just been listed as another game in the regular season, but the Baton Rouge Community College women’s basketball team’s season finale against Meridian Community College had much more implications than the schedule may read.
The winner would claim the 2012-13 Miss-Lou Junior Athletic Conference title, and it took five extra minutes Saturday afternoon to determine who that champion would be. But after surviving a late second-half surge from Meridian, BRCC put up 14 points in overtime to record a 96-89 win to earn the Miss-Lou conference crown and secure a seed in the regional tournament.
“The kids worked their butts off,” BRCC coach Paula Lee said. “It took a five-minute overtime, but they did it. It feels so good to win at home in front of the fans and my family and the kids’ family. What better way to go out.”
All this occurred on Sophomore Night at BRCC, with pregame food, music and other festivities taking over the parking lot before tipoff. Both squads must have been feeling the energy, as the two teams threw haymakers back and forth throughout the entirety of the first half.
The Lady Bears trailed for more then 16 minutes before regaining the lead with less than four minutes to go in the first half.
BRCC went into the break with a one-point advantage and came out of the gates firing on an 8-2 run. The Lady Bears led by as many as nine late in the second half before Meridian closed the game on a 13-4 run to send it into extras.
From there, BRCC rode the momentum, holding Meridian to just two free throws for the first four minutes of overtime.
“We did some bone head stuff, but we fought,” Lee said. “That’s all I asked them to do. If they left it on the court, I would be happy with the results. We couldn’t have asked for a better atmosphere. It was great.”
Forward Talaih Robertson and freshman guard Ashley Williams led the way for the Lady Bears, scoring 22 and 21 points, respectively, with Desiree Savage (12) and Ke’Ra St. John (10) each cracking double digits as well.
BRCC now enters the Region 23 Tournament in Mississippi.
“It gives us a whole heck of a lot of confidence going into the postseason simply because we’ve lost in the first round every time in the regional tournament,” Lee said.”We’ve lost the conference championship to Meridian my three years here. (It was) a big win.”
BRCC MEN 94, Meridian 63: The BRCC men had the same outcome as the women, just without the stress.
The Bears jumped out to an early double-digit lead against Meridian before coasting to a 94-63 win against Meridian in the regular season closer, having already secured the Miss-Lou crown earlier in the season.
BRCC had played Meridian twice already this season, needing late-game heroics to pull out a two-point win and a 10-point win. That wasn’t the case Saturday, as four Bears posted double-digit performances to en route to the 33-point stomping.
“(Meridian) is a good team, they run some good offense, but when you play a team three times, you pretty much know what they’re going to run,” BRCC coach Ricky Wilson said. “We were well prepared for what they were doing, and we executed when we had to.”
Morris Wright paced the scoring for the Bears, putting up 18 points to go along with his four rebounds and one steal. He was followed by Jeffrey Walker, who scored 17, Darrice Whitley with 16, DeShawn Washington with 15 and Trey Anthony with 12.
BRCC trailed out of the gates, falling behind 11-5 in the early going. From there the Bears hit a tear, scoring 34 of the next 42 points in the game, including a stretch of 16 straight points.
They never looked back, holding a 20-plus point margin for nearly the rest of the way through.
“I’m always on the side of getting better,” Wilson said. “It was an important game for us to get a win going into the regional tournament, but I thought we could play better. There’s a lot of things I think we need to brush up on.”
BRCC won’t have much time to work out the tweaks, as the Bears travel to Clinton, Miss., on Tuesday to face Southwest Mississippi in the Region 23 Tournament.
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