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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Memorial digs out of 14-point hole, earns crucial district win over Livingston

Titans 55, Lions 50

Livingston      11       18       12       9          —        50

Memorial        11       8          16       20       —        55

Livingston (11-9, 5-4)

Hannah Hawkins 11, Coryn Dirden 18, Amya Handy 6, T. Hartsell 6, Briana Hutchinson 6.

Memorial (7-18, 5-4)

Kerianna Portalis 4, Vern’Nequa Davis 7, Da

Kerianna Portalis of Memorial and Hannah Hawkins of Livingston chase down a loose ball during the second half Friday in Port Arthur. (I.C. Murrell/The News)

Julia Sion of Memorial shoots a turnaround shot as Briana Hutchinson (14) and Coryn Dirden of Livingston defend and Emily McElroy of Memorial looks on in the second half Friday in Port Arthur. (I.C. Murrell/The News)

kayla Miller 11, Daicha Kimble 2, Emily McElroy 4, Kiara Ford 2, Jackie Gibbs 12, Julia Sion 13.

Three-point goals — Livingston 3, Memorial 3 (Miller 2). Fouled out — Hawkins; Sion. Free throws — Livingston 10-15 (Dirden 4-6, Hawkins 4-5), Memorial 8-14 (Sion 5-6). Total fouls — Livingston 20, Memorial 21.

With 6:51 left in the third period, Port Arthur Memorial trailed Livingston by 14 points.

Overcoming missed bonus shots and creating more shot opportunities off their defense, the Titans turned around a game they needed at home and went on to take a 55-50 victory Friday night, their third in a row. The win moved Memorial (7-18, 5-4 in 22-5A) into a third-place tie with Livingston and Beaumont Central with five district games remaining.

Livingston beat Memorial 44-37 on Dec. 12. Ozen, tied for the district lead with Lumberton, defeated Central 49-32 on Friday to create the three-way tie for third.

“It was a good game and we’re still in the mix,” Titans coach Kevin Henry. “If we take care of our own business, then we control our own destiny.”

Dakayla Miller scored seven of her 11 points in the third quarter, when Memorial went from trailing 33-19 to pulling within 41-35 at the end of the period. But she wasn’t the only player to will Memorial back.

Both teams had reached the bonus early in the fourth quarter, allowing the Titans to slow up the game and get to the free throw line. They missed six straight free throws at one point, but Jackie Gibbs went to work and got 10 of her 12 points in the final 8 minutes, even going 2 for 2 on one free-throw trip to pull Memorial within 44-41.

“We became a little more patient on offense,” Henry said. “We saw what they were trying to do in a zone in the first half. So, we made a couple of adjustments, and the girls carried it through.”

Memorial’s defense forced Livingston’s guards into turnovers and contained leading scorer Coryn Dirden, who had a game-high 18 points. But it took Julia Sion (13 points), Miller, Gibbs and Vern’Nequa Davis offensively to help the Titans capitalize.

And more than just defense to win.

“I’d say hustling, penetrating the defense, concentrating and making layups and just playing basic basketball,” Gibbs said.

While the Lions (11-9, 5-4) struggled to a 7-for-14 clip at the foul line in the final quarter, Davis scored consecutive baskets and Sion made 2 of 2 to knot the game at 49-all, the first tie since 13-all early in the second frame. The first period was tied 11-all.

Gibbs’ baseline jumper with 1:32 left gave Memorial a 52-50 advantage, its first lead since 13-11. Miller added a free throw with 43 seconds left, but a Livingston player lost the ball out of bounds on the other end 10 seconds later, and Gibbs’ jumper with 20 seconds to go all but served as the dagger.

Sixteen minutes earlier, Memorial was in trouble, thanks in large part to Dirden. She had eight points to help the Lions go on an 18-8 run and lead 29-19 at halftime.

“We were just talking about different plays and trying to keep the energy up,” Gibbs said about the halftime discussion.

Vidor will visit Memorial on Tuesday.

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews


**CORRECTS Ozen’s standing in District 22-5A**

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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