MP girls celebrate winning the Bulldog Christmas Tournament.

MP girls celebrate winning the Bulldog Christmas Tournament. (Photo/Donna Wilson)

“It’s good to see the joy in their faces.”

That’s what Mary Persons girls basketball coach Lamon McElhaney said after his long-suffering Lady Dogs, who hadn’t strung together back to back wins in years, won four in a row including the MP Christmas Tournament championship on Thursday, Dec. 30.

The Lady Dogs beat Ola 54-42 in the championship on Dec. 30 to take the tournament title. 

Sophomore Samiya Morris and freshman Anaja Lucear both had 10 points to lead the Dogs. Junior Miah Barkley led with 16 rebounds. 

Junior McKenzie Lavinka was named the tournament MVP. McElhaney said Lavinka came off the bench and played so well he thought she was a starter. He said she not only scores well but does all the little things well, being in the right spot at the right time.

McElhaney said the MP girls, who have struggled mightily in recent years, were just joyous to win four straight games including the championship.

“We haven’t won back to back games in years,” said McElahaney. “The girls have enjoyed it, and they all get along, which is surprising. Our seniors have never got to experience winning, going all the way back to middle school. So it’s good to see the joy in their faces.”

In the tournament semis on Dec. 29 the girls throttled Greene County 66-18.

Sophomore Simiya Morris scored 15 points shooting a red hot 7 of 11. Sophomore Quanesha Brown added 10 to lead the Lady Dogs as well. Hajar Baldwin-Toles led with 11 rebounds.

On Dec. 28 the girls pounded Hampton 61-22. Sophomore Zaria Wilson led the Lady Dogs with 15 points in the title game and Lavinka added 14.

The Bulldogs resume region play with three home games in the next week. On Tuesday, Jan. 4 MP hosts Upson-Lee (8-4) at 6 p.m. Then on Friday, Jan. 7, the Dogs host Jackson at 6 p.m. On Saturday, Jan. 8, MP will host Howard at 3 p.m. The Dogs go back on the road again Tuesday, Jan. 11 at Americus.