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March 6, 2013

WALLACE STATE BASKETBALL: Lady Lions fall to No. 4 Shelton State in ACCC final, men cruise in opener

HANCEVILLE — Wallace State’s women’s bid to win its second state basketball tournament championship in three seasons was unsuccessful Wednesday night, as undefeated and fourth-ranked Shelton State prevailed 78-54 in the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) final at the Tom Drake Coliseum.

The Lady Lions trailed Shelton State by only seven points at the half, 42-35, but struggled to handle the Bucs’ full-court pressure in the opening minutes of the second half.

Wallace State closed the season at 23-10, finishing as ACCC runner-up for the second consecutive season after winning the 2011 title.

“If you break down the season, in retrospect, we made too many mistakes at crucial times. We had 10 freshmen who had to adjust to the next level. It’s a step faster and a step stronger,” said Wallace State coach Ron Burdette, who was selected  as the ACCC North Coach of the Year. “We will get back to work here in a couple of weeks and try to erase this feeling from happening again next year.”

At the conclusion of the tournament, Wallace State’s Ashley Nance was named the 2013 ACCC/Region 22 Player of the Year for her impressive regular-season work. The sophomore from Danville was the energizer of the Lady Lions this season,  averaging a double-double.

“I hate to see Ashley go. She’s one of the more special players to come through Wallace State in a long time. It’s going to be tough to replace her. All of the accolades she earned tonight are well-deserved,” Burdette said.

In Wednesday’s championship, Shelton State scooted out to a 21-11 lead midway through the first half. Wallace State chipped away at the deficit, but every time the Lady Lions hit a shot to inch closer, the Lady Bucs had an answer.

Wallace State’s Jaylan Snowden cut Shelton State’s lead to 39-35 with 15 seconds remaining in the first half, but tournament MVP Sharin Rivers answered with a 3-pointer as time expired, pushing the Lady Bucs’ advantage to 42-35 at intermission.

Shelton State (32-0) never let Wallace State threaten again.

Snowden, who was an ACCC/Region 22 second-team selection, led Wallace State in the loss with 15 points, hitting four 3’s. Morgan Pearson added seven points, Lauren Harris had six and Nance scored five. Nance and Snowden were All-Tournament selections.

Rivers and Brianna Lancaster poured in 16 points apiece for Shelton State, which won its seventh state title in the last eight seasons. The Lady Bucs advance to the NJCAA Division I national tournament in Salina, Kan., beginning on March 18.

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