PERRY – For the first time in nearly two years, the Upson Lee Lady Knights basketball program has won a region game on the road. The last time that happened was Jan. 21, 2014 when Upson Lee knocked off North Clayton by a 52.45 score.
On Tuesday night, the Lady Knights’ Kyjha Kendall led UL to a 50-44 victory over Perry, posting 14 points, 10 rebounds, and five blocked shots. Upson Lee had to overcome a 20-8 deficit at the end of the first quarter.
“After that first quarter, I told the girls that we had opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on and to keep fighting,” Lady Knights Coach Brandon Ingram said. “I was very proud of them fighting back and keeping that mental toughness that they need to play with all year.”
The Lady Knights struggled with turnovers and gave up a lot of fast break points in the opening quarter. Perry jumped out to a 20-8 lead after one quarter of play, and it looked as if the Lady Knights were in for a long evening.
However, they began to battle back in the second quarter, slowly, but battling back none the less. The Lady Knights defense settled into a 2-3 zone, and limited the Perry offense to jump shots from the perimeter. The Lady Knights did a nice job of rebounding the basketball and started to knock down a few baskets of their own. Upson Lee outscored Perry 16-9 in the second quarter, and at halftime trailed just 29-24.
The third quarter was played pretty evenly throughout for both teams. However, the Lady Knights did find themselves in foul trouble. Kendall committed her third foul of the game, and was replaced by Myia Ellerbee. The junior turned in one of her best performances of her career off the bench, tallying nine points and six rebounds for the Lady Knights.]
“Ellerbee did a great job and gave us some valuable minutes off the bench,” Ingram said. “Everyone played well when they got out on the court. Every player has to be prepared to step out on the court and give us all they have every night.”
The fourth quarter would prove the be one of the best quarters for the Lady Knights so far this season. Upson Lee’s defense forced numerous turnovers by the Lady Panthers, and the Lady Knights held Perry to just one point in the entire period. With 5:19 left in the game, Alexus Howard tied the game up with a lay-up off of a Perry turnover. Junior Vicketrus Meadows gave the Lady Knights the lead for good with a huge three-pointer from the corner with just 42.6 seconds remaining, as UL sealed the victory 50-44.
“I hope that win gives them the confidence,” Ingram said. “We have to keep playing hard and understand that we have to make some basketball plays to be in the game at the end.”
The Lady Knights will travel to Forsyth tonight to face the Lady Bulldogs from Mary Persons, a Lady Bulldogs team which is surprisingly win-less on the season. Tip off is set for 7 p.m.