Page Girls Beat Smith in Closely Fought Battle
The Page Pirates entered Ben L. Smith Gymnasium on Friday night in search of a victory that would help their chances in the Metro 4A Conference Tournament seeding. The Pirates would need a victory over Smith to give them an opportunity to play for the top spot in the conference this Tuesday night. The Smith Golden Eagles showed up to make them battle for the victory, something different than when the teams met earlier in the year and Page rolled to an easy 42-32 victory.
The teams both showed determination and desire to win the heated matchup.
The first quarter saw two quick baskets by Smith, the opener from Symphony Jackson, followed by a quick three-pointer made by Dominique “DJ” Jackson. The Lady Eagles were out to a 5-0 lead in the first minute of the game.
After the early lead by Smith, Page began to gain control of the game and an offensive boost was given when senior Bailey Kargo drained a three-pointer from NBA range. Smith followed Kargo’s shot with a 6-0 spurt, and Page’s Emily Casper made the final shot of the first quarter with 41 seconds remaining, and Smith out in front by a score of 15-11.
The second quarter showed much of the same back and forth style of play; however, going into halftime, the Golden Eagles still led, 24-18.
Page head coach Debbie Jones credited energy for her team’s comeback after being down at halftime.
“Playing with energy and playing with heart (got us the win),” Jones said. “Defense created offense for us tonight.”
To start the third quarter, the Pirates made two three pointers that tied the game for the first time since the contest was tied at 9 with 3:42 remaining in the first quarter. DJ Jackson and sisters Harmony Fletcher and Symphony Jackson led a quick seven point spurt that gave Smith a 31-24 lead with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter. Neither team scored again until the Pirates scored five points in the last 49 seconds of the third, and the quarter ended with Smith leading 31-29.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Lady Pirates appeared to play as they have played all season long. They tied the game at 31 when Bailey Kargo made a basket and drew a foul, and after the two teams were tied at 35 with 4:26 remaining in the game, Page never surrendered the lead. Smith should be credited for giving it their “all” down the stretch, but in the end, the Pirates were just too much.
With eight seconds left and the score 39-44, Harmony Fletcher was fouled after Page turned the ball over on an inbounds play, and made both shots, giving the Golden Eagles a chance at a one possession game. It was pretty much in the bag, until Bailey Kargo stepped on the baseline, giving the Golden Eagles the ball, with only one second remaining in the game.
“We didn’t care if they made a ‘two’,” Jones said of the final play.
Smith took the final shot, and missed, as the horn sounded to signify the end of the game.
Bailey Kargo- 17pts
Emma Heard- 12pts
Emily Casper- 9 pts
Chakalyn Patterson- 3pts
Roxanne Pfenning- 2pts
Amari Jackson- 1pt
Symphony Jackson- 12pts
Dominique “DJ” Jackson- 11pts
Harmony Fletcher- 8pts
Destiny McCullough- 7pts
Aasiyah Cobb- 3pts
Page Beats Smith by Two, Despite Smith’s Cheeks’ 29 Points
Although the game on Friday night at the Ben L. Smith Gymnasium on the campus of Smith High School didn’t feature a double-overtime game, led by a senior scoring 46 points doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good game.
Both teams battled from the first whistle, and it came down to the scoring of a sophomore that ended up being the difference maker.
The Pirates jumped on the board early when Tylan Tatum was fouled and made one of his two free-throws giving his team a 1-0 only 16 seconds into the game. Page didn’t let off the gas and led by a score of 18-7 after the first eight minutes of play.
Many expected the play of Raymon Pratt, the star scorer from Smith, to be a factor in the game. Unfortunately for Pratt and the host Golden Eagles, Pratt was held scoreless until there were 6:21 remaining in the first half. Although Pratt was held scoreless early, he finished with 19 points.
Coach William Partee, Jr. of the Golden Eagles believed that Pratt was excited to repeat his big performance from the two teams’ first meeting.
“I thought he was a little excited to start off,” Partee said of Pratt. “As the game went along he settled down and played well.”
Page led just about all of the first half, until, with 1:35 remaining in the half, Pratt, hit a three-pointer that gave Smith the lead – 31-29. Forty-five seconds later, the Pirates’ Elijah Short drained a three to regain the lead, a lead they would hold until the end of the first half. The visitors led by two points, 34-32, at halftime.
That lead quickly went away when Pratt went to the free throw line and made both shots to tie the game, 10 seconds into the second half. After Tyrece Cheeks made a three-point shot that gave the Golden Eagles their first lead since the first half, Page went on a 12-3 tear, followed by a 6-4 run to end the third quarter leading 54-49.
The two teams went to battle in the fourth quarter. The quarter began with an alley-oop from Cheeks to Pratt, who slammed the ball home to open the scoring. Although both teams fought tooth and nail, Page maintained the lead, with the exception of one tie coming at 66 points a-piece with 2:49 remaining in the game.
Going down the stretch, the game ended up in the hands of sophomore Jahlen King, who made a three at the buzzer in the last meeting to send the game to overtime. King was sent to the line four times, making 5-8 free throws, which ended up giving his team the victory.
The Pirates’ defensive effort to stop Pratt gave Tyrece Cheeks many open looks and he took advantage. Cheeks was the game’s leading scorer with 29 points.
Coach Matt Harder praised King for his free throws postgame.
“In those types of games every possession matters, but (King) hit enough free throws to get us by,” Harder said of his sophomore.
Harder also had great things to say about junior Tylan Tatum who chipped in 15 points for the Pirates.
“Tylan did a good job the first half really getting to the bucket,” Harder said. “He’s probably the most improved player on this team. He’s one of the more underrated players around here that no one talks about.”
“Our focus right now is Dudley,” Harder added. “We have to focus on what we can do. We’re going to go out there and prepare for Dudley. They’re a really good basketball team, and they’re going to come in hungry. We’re going to have our hands full on Tuesday and we’re really going to have to get after it,” he said of his upcoming Conference opponent.
Jahlen King was a collected young man after the win.
“I think I thrive in pressure,” King said. “I like it. I knew I was capable of making clutch shots from the three point shot that I made the last time we played Smith to send the game to overtime.”
The two teams are now tied for third place in the Metro 4A Conference after their game Friday night. Page improves to (9-10/5-3) with the win over Smith who falls to (11-11/5-3). Page faces Dudley this coming Tuesday night, and the Golden Eagles also play a Conference game.
Diondre Overton- 21pts
Jahlen King- 18pts
Tylan Tatum- 15pts
Elijah Short- 9pts
Brandon Talton- 6pts
Matt Audilet- 4pts
Tyrece Cheeks- 29pts
Raymon Pratt- 19pts
Cameron Dargan- 8pts
Jacob Crutchfield- 6pts
Jaylen Gainey- 6pts
Isaiah Bigelow- 3pts
Photos by Cameron Robles