Ernesia Wideman was fed up with her Laney Lady Wildcats getting beaten every year by Hephzibah. Tuesday night, she did something about it.
In the last game of her career against the Lady Rebels, Wideman scored 25 points and helped steer Laney (14-4) to a thrilling 65-54 overtime victory over Hephzibah (13-2) at the Laney gym.
"It was my last time playing against them," said Wideman, who scored six points while adding two assists and two key steals in the overtime period. "We've never beaten Hephzibah since I've been here. After we lost to Dublin in overtime (Saturday night), I was thinking in my head that we couldn't lose again."
The boys game was just as exciting as Laney (9-3) rallied from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter to beat Hephzibah (9-5), 73-68.
Nicholas Figgs tied the game at 67 with 2:11 left to play by hitting one of his two free throws. The Wildcats used two more free throws from Leon Paschall to take a 69-67 lead with 1:16 left.
Figgs then stole Hephzibah's pass downcourt and was fouled trying to convert a layup. He missed both free throws, but generated another steal on the Rebels' next possession and iced the game with a perfect alley-oop pass to Tyrone Taylor, who electrified the crowd with the dunk and gave Laney a 71-67 lead with 33 seconds left.
In the girls game, the first three quarters hardly resembled a matchup between two of the area's better girls teams. Both teams sputtered around, missing shots and committing turnovers.
Finally, the two teams caught fire in the fourth quarter. The Lady Rebels led by as many as six in the final period before a steal and a basket by Wideman tied the game at 48 with 1:38 left in regulation.
The Lady Rebels had trouble with Laney's half-court pressure. On their next possession, Shakethia Brown stole a Hephzibah pass and sank a jumper to make it 50-48 with 1:35 left.
However, Hephzibah drew a foul on its next possession down court. The Lady Rebels missed both free throws, but April Clyburn grabbed the loose ball and sank an underhanded lay-in to tie the game at 50.
Laney continued to answer. Playing for the final shot, Brown sank a baseline jumper with 10 seconds left to make it 52-50. However, on Hephzibah's next possession, Tamara Gilyard worked her way out of traffic and her shot underneath the basket swished the net as time expired to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, Laney held Hephzibah to just one basket while Wideman and Freeman took over. With Laney leading 57-54 with 1:04 left in overtime, Wideman was fouled penetrating the lane. Her two free throws to make it 59-54 iced the game.
"I told myself that I had to make these free throws," Wideman said. "Coach told us that we could beat them if we came out and played together. We played team ball tonight."
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.
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