LAFAYETTE — Former Major League Baseball player Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game during his playing days, and whether or not that was in any way responsible for getting him into the Hall of Fame is still up for debate.
Whether or not some pre-game bird was responsible for what Tiffany Wimpy did on Saturday night is also up for debate, but it’s hard to argue with the results.
Ridgeland’s senior post set a new Lady Panther record with 40 points, added 15 rebounds, and put the Black-and-White on her back late as she carried them to a 64-61 overtime win over county rival LaFayette in the third-place game of the Medi-Thrift Pharmacy Christmas Classic at LaFayette High School.
“It’s funny. I eat chicken before every game and it seems to help,” said Wimpy, who leads the team with a 17.7 points per game average. “Plus, I’ve been practicing a lot and it’s paid off. Still, I never thought I would score 40 in a game. It feels good and to know it’s a school record is amazing.”
Ridgeland (11-3 overall) needed the big night from Wimpy to finally edge out their Walker County neighbors. She scored all 19 of Ridgeland’s points in the fourth quarter and in overtime, including two buckets in the final 24 seconds of regulation that sent the game to overtime.
“That just shows our girls knew who needed to shoot the ball, which is good,” Ridgeland head coach Matt King said. “Tiffany played like a senior and played like a monster tonight. She also grabbed some big-time rebounds for us, especially there near the end.”
The Lady Panthers led by eight midway through the first quarter, only to see LaFayette (6-7) chip away. Ridgeland led 32-31 at halftime and the lead would change hands several times in the second half.
LaFayette forged its biggest lead of the game, 52-46, with just under four minutes to play, and they still led by four with under 30 seconds to go. But Wimpy scored with 24 ticks left, and following a missed LaFayette free throw, put back her own missed shot with 4.1 seconds remaining to knot the score at 52 and send the game to an extra four-minute session.
Wimpy would score 12 points in overtime, all in the paint, but a pair of 3-pointers by Shayla Ludy, including one with 35 seconds left, sliced Ridgeland’s advantage to one.
Wimpy’s final bucket came with 24 seconds left and she grabbed a huge defensive rebound followed a missed free throw by LaFayette. Amaya Harrington missed the front end of a 1-and-1 late, but Ludy’s final game-tying 3-point attempt was off the mark.
Harrington and Destiny Irvin poured in 10 points each to aid the Lady Panthers’ cause.
“We’ve all come so far,” Wimpy said. “We’ve gone from not winning a game to being 11-3 right now and it’s been incredible. The experience of us playing together for a year now has helped and we’re really playing as a team right now.”
“That’s a game we don’t win last year,” King said. “I think the girls finally have a sense of how to win now. We still have a lot of room for improvement, but they’ve come such a long way. I was really proud of the effort, especially from our point guard. Katy (Phillips) made some really key passes to Tiffany and handled the pressure from LaFayette’s defense.”
Young, who along with Wimpy was named to the All-Tournament Team, finished with 24 points and a season-high 19 rebounds in the loss. Ludy had 14 points on the night, while Hannah O’Shields collected 10 points.
“It was a heck of a ball game,” said LaFayette head coach Tommy Swanson. “Both teams really came out and played their hardest. For being the third day of the tournament, I though both teams played with a lot of energy. Unfortunately, Ridgeland just happened to make more plays than we did, but it was still a good game by both sides, I thought.”