Lady Saints going to Birmingham

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 29, 2004

TROY&045;It wasn’t pretty. In fact, at times it was downright ugly.

But ugly or not, the Lady Saints’ Friday afternoon 60-54 win over Carver-Montgomery counts all the same.

The top-ranked Lady Saints are going to Birmingham.

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“I lost three pounds,” a relieved coach Anthony Harris muttered before the post game press conference.

He wasn’t the only one.

Selma trailed for much of the game and their usually boisterous fans seemed a little nervous.

With senior post Kim Wilson in foul trouble and the Saints’ outside shooters firing blanks, the fans had reason to be nervous.

Then Super Santana Seay came to the rescue. The junior forward made some steals, went to the basket, made some shots in the lane and picked up a few assists to help get her team back on track.

“Santana’s the type, she’s not going to let you lose,” Harris said. “I told her, ‘it’s time for you to go to work.'”

Seay credited the Carver defense for making things tough.

“I was trying to break the defense down and go to the basket, but they wouldn’t let me penetrate,” Seay said. “So I had to use some of my little post moves down there. That kind of helped me out a little.”

In the end, the play of Wilson, Seay and point guard Ashley Green proved to be too much for the Lady Wolverines of Carver for the fourth time this season.

“My hat goes off to Carver. It’s hard to beat a team three times, much less four times,” Harris said. “That’s what a championship game is supposed to be like, sometimes.”

Seay and freshman Erica Lumpkin led the Saints with 18 points each, but the freshman struggled from the field.

She shot just 1-of-14 from behind the 3-point arc.

“She was a little too far out of range,” Harris said. “Then she got down low and threw a little hook and got back in.”

The Saints struggled in general from the field.

They shot just 4-of-24 from three-point land and 38 percent from the field.

The hit just 8-of-17 free throws.

“It was a hard fought game,” Harris said. “But we kept our composure and got some easy baskets down the stretch.”

Wilson, who played the final five minutes with four fouls, helped get the Saints some of those easy baskets.

She finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“It was very physical, I took a beating,” Wilson said. “I tried to go ahead and play hard and play my best defense without fouling out.” Combined with her strong play on Tuesday, Wilson was named the All-Tournament team MVP.

Seay was also named to the team.

Part of the reason for the Saints’ shooting woes was a closely guarded secret.

Harris revealed after the game that both point guard Ashley Green and shooting guard Shameka Simpson were hurt before the contest.

“I told them you’ve got to go and they made that sacrifice for me,” Harris said.

Both finished with five points each.

Keshee Dozier added two points and Erica Minor had a single point.

For Carver, Nicole Knox had 20 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out late in the contest.

Jennifer Harris added 12 points.

On a late surge, Selma trailed at the half and in the third quarter Carver maintained the advantage most of the way.

Finally, Seay started the rally.

She cut the lead to a point with a steal and a layup with just over two minutes left in the quarter.

After a Lumpkin block, Seay scored on the fastbreak.

After a Shantora Smith bucket for Carver, Seay got a steal and laid the ball again.

The quarter ended with Selma up a point, 41-40.

Carver answered with a little run to take a 5-point lead early in the quarter.

“Their eyes got a little bit at one time.

I told them ‘We’re going to win this ball game,” Harris said.

Simpson hit a three, then Lumpkins knocked down a two to tie the game at 46.

Then came the play of the night, a Carver player grabbed a rebound on the defensive end and turned with the ball above her head to look for the pass.

Green, who was soaring in for the rebound, snatched the ball away and as she crashed to the floor, shoveled the ball to Wilson for an easy layup and the lead. Lumpkin added a layup, but Carver refused to go away.

The teams traded baskets over the final minutes until Selma was able to seal the game away at the foul line.

Next up for the Lady Saints, a trip to the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center on Friday March 5.

The Saints will play Wenonah at 9 a.m. in the State Semi-Finals.

A win would mean a March 6th game for all the marbles.

Harris, who was an assistant coach for Selma’s boys when Willie Maxey won the state title, said his girls will be ready to face the brighter spotlight and bigger arena.

“The light’s are big, the floor’s big, it’s just a different atmosphere,” Harris said. “(But) You can’t rattle them.

They’ve got some soul-searching to do, but mentally, I think they’re ready.”