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The Lady Dragons led No. 11-ranked Blinn virtually the entire game before the Lady Roadrunners took the lead with 20 seconds to go and held on for a 59-57 victory.
“It was another bang-’em-up game — a mirror image of our game at their place a few weeks ago,” PJC women’s coach Michael Madrid said.
Back in mid-October, the league’s coaches were predicting who would end up atop the league, and the Lady Dragons were forecast to finish ninth among the 10 teams.
The prediction was that Paris would be one of the two teams not to make the post-season tournament.
But even with the loss, PJC’s record of 16-14 overall and 10-8 in Region XIV leave the Lady Dragons in a tie for fourth with Jacksonville.
“In fact, we had a coin flip today in the event we finished in a tie, and we won the flip,” Madrid said.
Since the No. 4 and 5 teams play at 3 p.m. Wednesday, it didn’t matter whether a team finished No. 4 or No. 5 except for the color of the jersey and which side of UT-Tyler Herrington Patriot Center each team’s fans will sit on.
Meanwhile, Blinn finished the regular season at 25-5 overall and 15-3 in league play, losing twice to No. 1 Trinity Valley and once to Tyler, which finished 26-4, 15-3. The Apache Ladies also lost two games to TVCC and one to Blinn.
But it was Paris that gave Blinn its two biggest scares otherwise. Blinn won 68-67 in Brenham on Feb. 5.
The Lady Dragons led 33-27 at the half behind Maeghan Scott‘s 3-pointers. She had four for the game, and three of them were in the first half. Paris stretched the lead to 11 points at six minutes of the second half before Blinn went on an 8-0 run to get within 42-39.
Blinn’s Fatima Adams, who led all scorers with 23 points, fell to the court hard early in the second half and lay motionless on the court as Paris went down court on a fast break.
When the play ended, the game was at a halt for about five minutes while Adams was tended to. She was helped off the court, but minutes later she came back into the game and led her team to victory.
Adams scored 11 of Blinn’s last 13 points, including 7-of-8 free throws. She made two free throws with 5:11 to play for a 50-49 lead.
Scott hit her only 3-pointer of the second half about a half minute later, and Shanice Vaughan scored on a fast break 17 seconds later for a 54-50 Lady Dragons lead.
From there, Adams made 5-of-6 free throws as Paris missed 3-of-4, and that was the difference.
Chy Cunningham made a jump shot from the free throw line to tie the game at 56-all at 1:16, and Scott made one of two free throws to make it 57-56 at 0:36.
Adams made two free throws at 0:20 for a 58-57 lead. Scott had a shot for the lead at 0:06, but it bounced off the rim and into Adams’ hands. She was fouled at 0:04, and made her second free throw, giving Blinn a two-point lead.
Paris had four seconds to work with, and got the ball down court, but Cunningham fumbled the ball momentarily and her desperation shot at the buzzer was off the mark.
Scott led Paris with 15 points, followed by Cunningham with 12. Vaughan and Shannon DeFoe scored 7 points each.
Free throws have been a strength of the Lady Dragons all season, but not on Saturday. They made 8-of-15 (53.3 percent), while Blinn made 17-of-24 (70.8 percent), most of them by Adams. She hit 11-of-17 free throws.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra