HOLDEN – Live Oak coach Michelle Yawn couldn’t remember the last time she had a team sweep three games in a tournament.
She also had to think very hard, to no avail, the last time she had a team win in the fashion the Lady Eagles closed out Friday’s 33-27 victory over St. Amant in the Albany High Tournament played at Holden High School.
“I don’t know when that’s last happened,” Yawn said of her team which defeated Covington (70-46) on Thursday and defeated Gulf Shores (Ala.) High (44-33) to open Friday. “St. Amant had a solid team, but it was an ugly game. I asked my assistants, ‘when was the last time we won an ugly game’? I don’t know how many ugly games we’ve won, so I’m pleased with that. Winning makes things better sometimes.”
St. Amant made it obvious someone other than Live Oak’s Dijone’ Flowers was going to have to beat them.
The Lady Gators took turns, sending several defenders to shadow Flowers and limited her to three field goals and 11 points. She was 3 of 12 from the field but grabbed five rebounds and blocked four shots.
Conversely, the Lady Eagles’ offense consisted of a total of nine made baskets with four of those coming in the second half.
The Lady Eagles shot 35 percent for the game but compensated somewhat by forcing 20 turnovers and making key free throws down the stretch.
“Because we were tired from the first game and doing so much running,” Live Oak guard Harmony Johnson explained for her team’s sluggish offensive performance. “Since we couldn’t do a lot on offense, we had to get turnovers and get some offense from that. To try and speed them up so they could turn the ball over, and we could get more possessions than them.”
Johnson was one of the keys to Live Oak’s victory, scoring eight of her team-high 14 points in the second half. She made both of her team’s field goals in the fourth quarter – a pair of layups – for the Lady Eagles who didn’t make another shot over the final five minutes of the game.
St. Amant tied the game at 26-26 with 4:10 to play when Johnson snapped the deadlock with a free throw with 3:51 remaining.
Johnson added another free throw with 1:53 to go and two more that made it 30-26 with 51.2 seconds left after getting fouled on an inbounds play.
Live Oak wound up making 7 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter. Flowers made a pair with 34.9 seconds showing to match the Lady Eagles biggest lead (32-26) of the game.
St. Amant was limited to 2 of 8 shooting in the fourth quarter and committed four turnovers. The Lady Gators went the last four minutes of the game without a basket.
“They have a solid team,” Yawn said. “I think we did a good job on 15 (McKenzie Brooks 5 points) and 11 (Kelsey Martini team-high 10 points).”
Johnson opened and closed the first quarter with baskets, the latter providing a 13-7 lead, but Live Oak went the entire second quarter without making a field goal. They missed on all four of its shots and suffered nine of its 22 turnovers, only to still lead 17-12 at halftime.
“Somebody else has to step up and help,” Johnson said. “We can’t just depend on D (Flowers) all the time. They’re going to be games where she may be off and it’s a team game. Everybody has to help as a team.”