For Spalding coach Shawn Thompson, the win was especially sweet after the Lady Patriots defeated the Lady Jaguars 80-32 in last year’s season opener and Thompson’s first game as Spalding’s coach.
“It was awesome,” she said. “To come out against one of the best teams in the state and win the opener means a lot. It shows all of our hard work is paying off.”
Southwest-Macon jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and led 13-10 after the first quarter, but Spalding cam back to take a 21-18 lead at halftime.
The Lady Patriots closed the gap to 33-31 after the third quarter by pressuring Spalding with a full-court press, but the Lady Jaguars jumped out to an 8-point lead, the largest lead of the game, after two fast-break baskets from Williams and a layup by Kiara Smith.
Southwest Macon fought back and closed the lead to two points after a 3-point play by Parrisha Simmons, but Myeshia Sims’ 3-point shot bounced off the top of the backboard as time expired to seal Spalding’s win.
Simmons led the Lady Patriots with a game-high 18 points, while Angelia Hill ended with 10 points.
As the buzzer sounded, Spalding’s bench jumped on the floor and celebrated the win.
“It’s the first time we’ve played the entire game at full intensity. We didn’t give up,” Thompson said.
Spalding honored Nakitta Wilson by warming up in shirts with her pictured printed on them and with a moment of silence before the game.
Wilson, a player on Spalding’s team, was killed on Nov. 17 by gunshot.
“I joked to them before the game that if Nakitta were here, she’d be yelling at them if they weren’t playing hard enough,” Thompson said. “It’s been a tough preseason.”