SPORTS HEADLINES

Paradise duo swats away Lady ‘Jackets

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, January 18, 2014

Paradise post Makenna Burt felt the Boyd defenders squeezing the lane against her early Tuesday. That was until Paradise guard Makala Neighbors hit a pair of big first-quarter 3-pointers.

“That really helped bring out the defense and left me open,” Burt said.

LONG REACH – Paradise’s Makenna Burt reaches for a rebound during the Lady Panthers’ victory over Boyd Tuesday night. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The Paradise inside-outside duo was too much for the Lady Yellowjackets to handle in the Lady Panthers’ 43-35 victory at Boyd High School gym. Burt and Neighbors finished with 16 points apiece.

“It was too much Makala and especially Makenna,” said Boyd coach Lynn Cranfill. “We tried to squeeze inside on Makenna and couldn’t hold her.”

The victory gave Paradise (19-4, 6-1) the season sweep of its rival and kept them a game behind Brock in the race for the District 9-2A title.

“Anytime you go on the road and get a win in this district, it’s big,” said Paradise coach Kevin Pope. “Fortunately, three of the four we’ve played on the road we’ve won.”

Boyd (13-6) fell to 3-4 in the league and remains in fourth place with five games remaining. The Lady Yellowjackets will play only one home game the rest of the way.

Along with the offensive combination of Neighbors and Burt, the Lady Panthers held Boyd’s Abby Harrell to just five points. Harrell, who poured in 23 in the last meeting in December, managed only one shot from the field – a 3-pointer she made in the first quarter.

“They were boxing her,” Cranfill said. “If she has 10 or 12, we’re in the middle of it.”

Pope said they were determined to hold Harrell in check.

“She lit us up last time, and we had to change some things up,” the Paradise coach said. “We did a lot of good things. Several kids played their roles.”

Harrell’s lone 3-pointer answered one from Neighbors and brought the Lady Yellowjackets within one, 10-9, in the first quarter.

But Neighbors extended the lead back to three, hitting two free throws with no time left in the quarter for her ninth and 10th points of the frame. Including her two treys, she had all but two of Paradise’s points in the opening frame.

“Those were big 3s,” Pope said. “You’ve got to guard her.”

The Neighbors’ free throws started a 10-2 run for Paradise that stretched through the first six minutes of the second quarter. Boyd struggled to hold on to the ball in the quarter after point guard Amber Montgomery was forced to the bench with a bloody nose. Boyd committed five of its 16 turnovers in the second quarter with Montgomery out of the game.

“It just started bleeding,” Montgomery said. “I must have got hit in it.

“It was tough. We knew what we were going up against. We tried our hardest. They are a good team.”

With a layup and free throw, Burt extended Paradise’ lead to 10, 23-13, with 1:37 left in the first half.

Montgomery, who had to change jerseys, hit a runner in the closing seconds of the half to cut the deficit to eight at the break. She finished with nine points.

Paradise’s lead grew to 15 in the third on a Burt free throw. She hit six of her 11 attempts at the line on her way to the double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds.

After Boyd cut the deficit to nine, Burt hit two more free throws to push Paradise in front by 11, 34-23, going to the fourth.

Boyd made one last charge, getting within seven on a jumper by Lindsey Thorpe with 5:24 remaining. Thorpe scored eight points in the final frame. But Paradise and Burt kept Boyd at bay. Burt’s bucket inside with 2:42 left extended Paradise’ lead back to 11.

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