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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Titans 1-up Indians again

Memorial 59, PNG 58, OT

Dakayla Miller of Memorial drives to the basket for a go-ahead layup against Maylin Stampley of PNG with 1:12 remaining in overtime Tuesday in Port Neches. (I.C. Murrell/The News)

Jacqualyn Gibbs of Memorial pulls up for a short-range shot as Mollee Priddy (32) and Holly Jones (34) of PNG defend in the first half Tuesday. (I.C. Murrell/The News)

Dakayla Miller of Memorial and Chelsea Carrillo of PNG try to avoid touching the ball out of bounds in the second quarter Tuesday in Port Neches. (I.C. Murrell/The News)

Julia Sion of Memorial pulls up for a shot against Chelsea Carrillo (21) and Holly Jones (34) of PNG in the second quarter Tuesday in Port Neches. (I.C. Murrell/The News)

PORT NECHES — Port Neches-Groves made Memorial work 4 more minutes for a season sweep.

Memorial recovered from letting a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter slip away, and Dakayla Miller scored four crucial points in the final 72 seconds to help the Lady Titans hold on for a 59-58 overtime win over the Indians on Tuesday night.

“I just had to stay focused, stay in the game and make sure we capitalized not every possession but mostly all of the possessions,” said Miller, who had 19 points and three steals.

Memorial (15-10, 9-1 in 21-5A) remained in first place in the district thanks to Julia Sion’s 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Miller’s 19 points and three steals. The Lady Titans defeated third-place PNG (19-11, 7-3) by one point for the second time this season and are 6-0 against the Indians since becoming district rivals with them in the 2016-17 season.

The Lady Titans won 45-44 in Port Arthur on Jan. 4.

“The girls have been showing they are locked in and focused,” said Kevin Henry, whose Memorial team has won seven in a row. “They tell me that they have it, but I told them actions speak louder than words.”

Maylin Stampley, PNG’s point guard who also scored 20 points, had a chance to return the favor.

Fouled on a drive to the basket with 4.9 seconds left, the junior missed the first but made the second free throw to even the score at 51-51. Miller took the inbound pass out of a timeout patiently found Jordan Duncan — who made the winning free throw Jan. 4 — streaking to the three-point arc, but Duncan missed at the buzzer.

The Titans jumped out quickly to a 55-51 in the first 28 seconds of OT thanks to Duncan’s running jumper and a Sion score off the break following a steal. Harlee Barnwell, who had missed some games earlier this month with a torn ACL, remarkably knotted the score with four straight free throws.

Miller, who had defensed Stampley most of the night, came up with a steal and drive to the hole for the go-ahead basket with 1:12 left.

“It helped us real nice,” Miller said. “I knew I could get the steal. I knew it. I knew it. I had to get the steal for my team. We had to win this game.”

Miller made 2 of 2 at the line after Stampley missed a trey.

But Stampley wasn’t done. She nailed a three-point shot 14 seconds later to pull PNG within one point.

Out of a timeout, Memorial’s Denisha Anderson missed two free throws with 7.7 seconds left.

PNG’s Mollee Priddy and drove to the right-hand wing, but Jacqualyn Gibbs deflected her pass toward the top of the key just before the final horn to secure the victory.

Chelsea Carrillo had 18 points and 15 rebounds for PNG. She had seven boards on offense and helped PNG get back in the game with second-chance shots.

Priddy and Barnwell each scored nine points.

The first half was almost entirely neck-and-neck. Stampley knocked down two of her five three-point baskets toward the end of the half to give the Indians a 27-22 lead. They were ahead 13-11 through the first quarter.

Stampley’s first four made shots were three-pointers. “

We were trying to wear her out,” Henry said. “She’s one of the offensive firepowers. We were trying to wear her out trying to limit her touches and so forth, and she was able to get loose and hit some buckets for them.”

The Indians led by as many as seven points before Sion and Miller keyed a 15-4 rally that put the Titans ahead 39-33 at the end of three periods.

“We were able to be a little more disciplined in the first half because we gambled in the first half on a couple of passes, and that got Stampley open a couple of times [when we were] trying to jump a pass,” Henry said. “They locked in and tried to keep someone in front of them from getting to the goal.”

Memorial held at 46-37 lead with with 5:21 to go, but did not convert another field goal until Emily McElroy made a layup with 38 seconds left to cushion a one-point lead up to 51-48. Barnwell — who hobbled off the court in pain during the second quarter — completed a three-point play 20 seconds earlier that narrowed the gap to 49-48.

Stampley had a three-point try rejected out of bounds with 22.5 seconds remaining and was then fouled away from the ball. With the Indians in the single bonus, Stampley made 2 of 2 free throws to make it 51-50.

The Lady Titans threw an errant pass that Barnwell tracked down the court. Priddy then found Stampley at the left wing, and Stampley was fouled while attacking the rim with 4.9 seconds to go, making her tying free throw.

On Friday Memorial will host Cleveland and PNG will visit Barbers Hill. • I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

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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