LIVINGSTON — When number 9 Jonesboro-Hodge strolled into Livingston Thursday night to play the 8th seed Tigers of Doyle, it was supposed to be one of the best match-ups in Louisiana. The only great part of this game was that the ladies of Doyle kept the home fans happy with a 68-49 win over the Tigers of Jonesboro.
After trading 3’s with Jonesboro, Doyle was able to put up 15 points by the halfway point in the first quarter, giving the Lady Tigers a 7 point lead that never dipped again.
“It couldn’t have worked out any better,” said Doyle head coach Guy McDonald. “When you play a team like this one, you really want that lead.”
And his Lady Tigers managed to keep that lead going into the second quarter with a score of 16-7.
“If you can get ahead, it takes the pressure off,” McDonald said. “We’re a young team, we need that buffer.”
While some might say the pressure was off, the tension was still there. Starting in the second quarter, Jonesboro’s Paris Robinson went up for 2 to cut the lead down to 7. She had 26 points on the night, and although she was streaky, she kept the Tigers of Jonesboro relevant sinking 2’s and 3’s to constantly cut the lead.
None of that compared to Taylin Underwood though. Thanks to a man defense by Jonesboro, Underwood was able to make moves left and right and cut towards the basket. While her first half was tough, in the second she got hot for Doyle.
“We just needed to run our offense better,” McDonald said. “I told her to slow down, we can take our time and get them.”
She finished with 36 points on the night.
After taking a 15 point lead just before halftime thanks to a three from Courtney Edwards, Underwood took control in the second half, putting up 25 of her 36 points and completing several assists down low after driving the paint.
“I told her (at halftime) to get a shot for herself or for somebody else,” McDonald.
Underwood made good on that request, keeping the Doyle lead padded as best she could and dishing off to Bell Rayner underneath or Madison Watts from beyond the arc when she needed help.
Without an answer to Underwood, even with Robinson making her necessary shots, the Tigers of Jonesboro got desperate.
With 4:30 left to go in the fourth quarter, a long three from Robinson dropped the Doyle lead to 11, their lowest of the second half. Jonesboro began to press, and forced some costly mistakes by the Doyle Tigers. However, they were unable to capitalize on any of these mistakes.
For a minute and a half game time, the play got physical. Five fouls were committed during that span which put Doyle in the bonus. On the last foul of that series, Watts sank both of her free throws, putting the Tigers up 13.
With 3 minutes left, the Jonesboro girls began to foul intentionally. Unfortunately for them, the person they had to foul was Underwood. She was lights out from the free throw line, shooting 15 for 17 for the night; the team was 23 for 29.
For every shot Jonesboro made, and even for the ones they missed, Underwood made her free throws. She ended the game sinking 2 to put the Tigers of Doyle up 68-49.
Doyle, which improved to 27-6, will face U-High Monday at University’s campus at LSU. Tip off is set for 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m. Tickets are $6. Jonesboro-Hodge ended its season at 22-4.
DHS 16 19 12 21 — 68
JHHS 7 13 11 18 — 49
JONESBORO-HODGE: Kierra Belton 5, Malaka Goree 6, Mahalia Jackson 2, Paris Robinson 26, Jakita Sampson 4, Breanna Wayne 6. DOYLE: Courtney Edwards 9, Jessica Nesom 5, Belle Rayner 6, Taylin Underwood 35, Madison Watts 10, Rylie Womack 3.