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Kelsei Ewings scored 16 points, including two clutch free throws with 11 seconds to play that gave Paris Junior College a four-point lead in a 58-54 victory over Jacksonville on Wednesday.
Paris won for the first time in a month, snapping a seven-game losing streak.
With the victory, Paris improved to 7-15 overall and 2-8 in league play. Jacksonville fell to 12-11 and 5-5.
Elsewhere in the conference on Wednesday, San Jacinto defeated Panola 69-56, Kilgore beat Tyler 88-58, and Trinity Valley beat Angelina 86-60.
The win was crucial as the Lady Dragons seek to make the post-season Region XIV tournament on March 6-10 in Tyler.
Only the eight teams with the best record in the nine-team league go to the tournament. There’s a logjam at the bottom among Tyler (3-7), Panola (3-8), Paris (2-8) and San Jacinto (2-8).
Khadijah Carter led the Lady Jaguars with 23 points, making nine field goals and five of six free throws.
Paris trailed for most of the first half, but rallied late to trail by only 27-26 at halftime.
The Lady Dragons picked up in the second half where they left off, scoring the first basket of the second half for a 28-27 lead.
Jacksonville led 31-30 after two minutes. Then it was 35-33 Paris with 15:40 to play, and the Lady Dragons kept the lead for the next 12 minutes. Their biggest lead was six points at 47-41 on Shanice Hill’s 3-pointer with 8:20 remaining.
Jacksonville answered with baskets underneath on its next two trips down court, both times after missing the first shot but getting the rebound.
Ewings scored from outside to give Paris a four-point edge again at 49-45 with 6:40 to play.
Jacksonville scored five straight points to reclaim the lead — starting with Jinaki Robinson banking in a 3-pointer to cut Paris’ lead to 49-48 at 5:33.
After Paris missed, the Lady Jaguars grabbed the rebound and Carter wasted no time in driving for a lay-up that gave the visitors its first lead in a while at 50-49 at 4:41.
The lead changed hands twice over the next …… Ewings’ shot from outside gave Paris a 51-50 lead with 4:16 left. Then it was Jacksonville ahead 52-51 with 3:15 to play, and the Lady Jaguars had just completed an 11-4 run.
Lady Jaguars coach Lynn Nabi called a time-out, but for the rest of the game, fortune was with Paris, which finished on a 7-2 run.
Voche’ Martin, the Lady Dragons’ 6-3 center, scored only 3 points all night, but they were timely. With 2:11 to play, Martin got the ball inside and not only scored but was fouled on the play. Her free throw gave Paris a 54-52 lead.
Martin committed her fourth foul with two minutes to play, but Jacksonville’s Jasmine Robinson missed the front end of her 1-and-1 and Martin grabbed the rebound.
Ewings made a huge drive to the basket at 1:31 for a 56-52 lead.
Martin fouled out with 1:11 to play, and this time it was Devanyar Workman at the line.
Jacksonville made 5-of-6 free throws in the first half and 6-of-9 in the second half, but like her teammate shortly before, Workman also missed the front end of her 1-and-1. Paris’ Shanice Vaughan gathered in the rebound.
Now, the clock was moving into the final minute of play and Paris had a four-point lead. It wouldn’t be easy, though.
The Lady Dragons put up a shot 10 seconds into its 30-second clock, and Jacksonville rebounded when the shot didn’t fall.
With 28 seconds to play, Jasmine Robinson was fouled by Ashley Johnson. She made her first shot but missed her second, and Johnson got the rebound and was fouled immediately.
It was only the fourth team foul for Jacksonville, so Paris got no shot. Instead, it was to inbound the ball under the Jacksonville goal with a 56-53 lead and 0;27 on the clock.
With the 30-second shot clock now off, Paris needed only to run out the clock. But there was a dilemma in the making – Paris was to have a dickens of a time getting the ball successfully in-bounded within the prescribed 5 seconds.
Just before an official was about to call a 5-second violation, Paris coach Sean LeBeauf called a time-out.
When both teams returned to the court, Paris again was about to be called for a 5-second violation. In fact, one of the officials DID rule a turnover for Paris not getting the ball in-bounds in time.
But on the other end, LeBeauf got the attention of one of the other officials just before the whistle, and Paris was allowed to keep possession, to the heated frustration of Nabi, who protested, “You made the call!”
The third in-bounds try was no more successful for Paris. Right in the middle of it, a whistle blew and Johnson was whistled for an offensive foul.
So there we were. Jacksonville still trailed 56-53, but now the Lady Jaguars not only had the ball but on their own end of the court, and there STILL was 25 seconds left on the clock.
At 0:14, Jacksonville got the ball inside to Carter, who shot and missed, but was fouled by Paris’ Brea Castro. Carter was 4-for-4 from the free throw line to this point, but it was like LeBeauf had a voodoo doll and was willing the free throw not to fall.
Carter missed the first free throw and made the second one to cut the Lady Dragons’ lead to 56-54.
Ewings was fouled twice in the next few seconds and went to the free throw line with 10 seconds to go. She needed to make one free throw for a 3-point lead and both free throws to clinch the win.
She made both, to the cheers of the crowd, and victory was only seconds away. Jacksonville missed a 3-point try at the other end and the 58-54 Paris win was in the books.
Jacksonville (12-11, 5-5) – Devanyar Workman 1 0 0-1 2, Khadijah Carter 9 0 5-6 23, Kalyn Shorter 0 0 0-0 0, Chelsea Rogers 2 2 0-0 6, Jasmine Robinson 2 0 4-6 6, Jinaki Robinson 3 3 0-0 9, Susan Agesen 2 0 2-2 6. Totals: 19 5 11-15 54. Fouls: 11 (Workman 3, Carter 2, Shorter 3, Robinson 2, Agesen 1).
Paris (7-15, 2-8) – Shanice Hill 2 1 0-0 5, Kelsei Ewings 7 0 2-2 16, Shanice Vaughan 4 00-0 8, Maeghan Scott 4 0 2-3 10, Ashley Johnson 2 0 0-2 4, Brea Castro 3 0 2-2 8, Voche’ Martin 1 0 1-1 3. Totals: 25-1 7-9 58. Fouls: 15 (Ewings 1, Scott 2, Johnson 4, Castro 3, Martin 5).
By CHARLES RICHARDS