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Highlights: Kenijha Flowers takes over for Clinton in 64-54 second-round win over Desoto Central

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CLINTON — The Clinton Lady Arrows are on to the third round, but nothing about their second-round win over DeSoto Central came easy.

The Lady Arrows erased a 35-31 halftime deficit, took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter and pulled away late for the 64-54 win.

“We just needed to keep grinding and stick to what we do best,” Clinton coach Pearlene Fairley said. “We feel like we have five players on the court who can score the ball and that makes us hard to defend. We were having success running but we had to get back into our half-court sets and take it one possession at a time.”

The Lady Arrows (20-7) will face Horn Lake in the third round Monday night. The Lady Eagles 21-3 defeated Starkville 58-35 Friday night at home.

MORE: Check out the MHSAA 6A Girls Basketball Bracket here

Fairley said she’d like to see her team get off to a better start in the next round. For a while Friday night, it looked like they were destined to dig too big of a hole.

The two teams played to an 18-18 tie in the first quarter, thanks to Clinton’s Kenijha Flowers hitting a couple of three-pointers and contributing 11 points. 

DeSoto Central (20-4) started getting some separation in the second quarter. Janiya Jones hit three of her five first-half three-pointers as the Lady Jags built a 34-31 halftime lead.

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Coming out of the halftime break, it was obvious that Clinton was determined to limit Jones’ touches.

“The adjustment we had to make was that we needed to face-guard,” Clinton coach Pearlene Fairley said. “We were trying to guard them man to man, and she kept coming open off of those double screens. I talked to the refs about calling that because they were moving, but we knew she’d get frustrated if she couldn’t get a touch.”

It worked — Clinton fought back from a 42-38 deficit halfway through the third quarter and took its first lead of the second half on a couple of free throws by Ayonna Naylor with 1.3 seconds left to take a 50-49 advantage into the fourth quarter.

Flowers came out of the break hot, and the Lady Arrows opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run. DeSoto Central junior guard Tereah Hayslett tried to keep the Lady Jags in the game, but Naylor converted an and-one opportunity to put Clinton ahead 61-54 with three minutes left, and they held on from there.

Jones scored just one bucket in the second half, and the turnovers that plagued Clinton early in the game seemed to disappear in the later stages.

Flowers finished with a game-high 28 points for Clinton. Kaitlyn Walker and Arianna Durrel both scored 10, and sophomore — and future star — Taelar Felton scored nine.

Jones scored 21 for DeSoto Central. Hayslett scored 14 and Thailan Payne chipped in 11.

“We played rock solid defense until the fourth quarter,” DeSoto Central coach Gwen Johnson Petty said. “We got ahead of ourselves a little bit and we didn’t handle our assignments in the fourth quarter. You have to play defense for four quarters in the playoffs, and we didn’t do that tonight.”