It's not official, yet, but the Mississippi Gulf Coast women's basketball team appears to have clinched its first playoff spot since 2013.
The Lady Bulldogs defeated Hinds 62-51 at Utica on Thursday to move into a four-way tie for second place in the MACJC South. The top four teams in the division qualify, with Gulf Coast (13-8, 9-5 South) in a pack with Copiah-Lincoln, Pearl River and East Central.
"It feels great," Gulf Coast coach Hope Adams said. "I'm proud of these girls. We've been preaching it to them all year. Even though we started a little slow, we told them its not how the start is how the finish. They really stepped it up the second half of conference. I told them today, 'Y'all did it.' Now we want to make a playoff run, too."
The MACJC is without a commissioner right now, so its Athletic Council will meet to decide the seeding for the state tournament, which starts Monday in Ellisville. The bracket is expected to be released Friday.
Kayla Simmons (Fr., Brandon/Brandon) led the Lady Bulldogs with 19 points and also had five rebounds. Breannah McCullah (So., Edwards/Raymond) had 17 points, and Azaria Howard (So., Richland/Richland) score nine points and had a team-high seven rebounds.
The Lady Bulldogs' offense struggled for the first 30 minutes.
"We struggled scoring," Adams said. "We had a lot of traveling call and just weren't taking care of the ball."
Gulf Coast led 39-36 after three quarters and pulled away in the last 10 minutes.
"That fourth quarter I told them it was win-or-go-home," she said. "We started moving the ball better, and we were able to break their press and get some easy buckets and pull away."
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