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Mary Persons girls basketball team suffered two defeats this past week against their region rival the Jackson Red Devils 43-62 and the Pike County Pirates 47-34, a game that took the place of a Howard matchup that was cancelled for COVID reasons. 

In the Jackson game, the girls struggled throughout to match the Devils in points and wound up down by 10 at the half. Although the girls fought hard throughout, Jackson’s lead in points was soon insurmountable and the girls were defeated by 19. Top scorers in the game for Mary Persons were #11 sophomore Miah Barkley with 16 points, #35 senior Jmya Mann with 8 points and #21 freshmen Quanesha Brown with 7 points. Head coach Lamon McElhaney says the team has four freshmen playing a substantial amount of time. In addition to Brown, there’s #25 Zaria Wilson, #15 Hajar Baldwin-Toles and #3 Samiya Morris. 

“Lately, Morris and Baldwin-Toles have been playing a lot, and Brown isn’t far behind them in minutes. Having two of your lead scorers be a freshmen and sophomore bodes well for the future. But right now, having such a young team definitely makes it harder to win.” McElhaney says while the Jackson loss was disappointing, it definitely showed signs of improvement from past years. 

“The game was up and down at times. The girls put up a good fight, which may have been because of the rivalry. A lot of girls on the team hangout and know the Jackson girls so it was a little personal. I was pleased overall, not so much with how we played, but with how we fought. We’re moving in the right direction in the grand scheme of things as far as how many points we’re scoring and allowing in comparison to previous years. The improvement is there, and you can see it if you’ve been around as long as I have. It’s hard to explain that gradual improvement to 15-year-old girls because they think success comes with wins and losses. I’m trying to explain that it’s more about where we are now as a program compared to where we’ve been.”

Mary Persons’ following home matchup against Pike County on Monday, Jan. 11 was equally disappointing. MP outscored the Pirates in the first quarter 8-7 but quickly fell behind in the second, with Pike putting up 19 points to their four. The girls managed to mostly match points with the Pirates in the third and fourth quarter, but that second quarter deficit proved too big to overcome. 

The girls are now 2-8 overall and 0-4 in region 2-AAA. The team has several competitive region games on the horizon, with Americus-Sumter on Tuesday, Jan. 12 (results unavailable as of press time), Peach County on Friday, Jan. 15 and Central next Tuesday. The team has 10 games left before the region tournament, which McElhaney says leaves plenty more chances for wins.  

“We may not win, but I always want to be competitive and do what we do to the best of our ability. If we do that, winning can happen.”