PELHAM, Ala. — Wayne County basketball coach Gina Skelton and Southeast Lauderdale’s Joe Miller capped off state championship seasons by leading the Mississippi’s girls to an 89-80 victory over Alabama in the Alabama-Mississippi Basketball All-Star Game Friday night at the Pelham Civic Center Complex.

The victory evened the series at eight wins apiece.

“It is really icing on the cake,” said Skelton. “It is very nice. It’s a great honor to be able to coach such a group of young ladies and to be able to be with Coach Miller. I know we looked a little unorganized at times, but in an all-star game, that’s how it is.”

Brittany Davidson of Class 5A state runner-up Meridian overcame a hard fall in the final 2:09 to score 11 points for the winners. Davidson, a UAB signee, also had four rebounds and four assists. Louisiana Tech signee Tiawana Pringle of Class 3A state champion Southeast Lauderdale and USM signee Lauren Pittman of Class 4A state champion Wayne County both had seven points. Nadosha Strickland of Bay Springs had five points.

Jennifer Wair of Velma Jackson led Mississippi with 13 points and eight rebounds. Mississippi MVP Katorra Lewis, a 6-foot-2 center from Class 5A state champion Clinton, tossed in 11 points and had seven rebounds.

“Coach Skelton did a great job of coaching and it was a real honor to be with her,” added Miller, whose biggest problem in the first half was remaining upright in his folding chair on the sideline.

“The crowd needed something to get them started, so I fell on purpose,” said Miller, tongue firmly in cheek, of his spill.

“We had some good kids that played hard the whole ballgame and knocked down some free throws at the end that we had to have. We’re as proud of them as we can be. We needed this one to even up the series.”

Mississippi took an 8-3 lead in the first 90 seconds only to have Alabama put together a 10-0 run to go up 20-11 with just over 12 minutes to go in the first half.

Mississippi answered with a 12-0 run to grab a 30-22 lead with 6:42 left in the first half and carried a 47-35 lead into halftime.

Davidson hit a 3-pointer to give Mississippi a 39-28 lead with 4:05 left in the half.

Alabama cut its deficit to 57-54 with just under 12 minutes to play, but Davidson added a basket at the 11:31 mark and the Magnolia Staters extended their lead to 62-56 with 9:24 to go.

Alabama pulled even at 64-64 on a pair of free throws by Jessica Young with 6:51 left, but Davidson started a 7-0 run with a driving layup down the left baseline with 6:36 left. Donica Crosby drained a 3-pointer 30 seconds later and Wair scored on a layup for a 71-64 lead with 5:41 to play.

A 6-0 Alabama run gave the hosts a 74-73 lead with 2:54 showing, but Lewis buried a 3-pointer with 2:31 left to give Mississippi a 76-74 lead.

“Katorra hit a big 3 for us,” Skelton said. “I thought that was the decider. She had hit a couple 3s for us in practice, but we were going ‘no, no, no’ and then I said ‘go, go, go.”

Davidson scored on a layup 22 seconds later and the Mississippi girls made 9-of-10 free throws over the final 1:30 to win back-to-back games for the first time since the first two meetings in 1991 and 1992. Four different players went to the line during that stretch.

“Free throws win games,” Skelton said. “Rebounding and free throws.”

Mississippi held a 60-45 advantage on the boards as the teams were a combined 58-of-151 from the floor.

Davidson, who missed only 39 seconds of playing time after the hard fall on her right elbow, added a layup with two seconds left for the final margin.

“It hurts real bad,” Davidson said. “When I came down, it came out and I banged my funny bone and my whole arm went numb.

“I had to come back. We had to come out with a win. A little elbow injury wasn’t going to keep me out of the game.”

Alabama got 19 points from University of Florida signee Brittaney Thomas, 17 from Auburn signee Renisha Hobbs and 16 from team MVP Shanavia Dowdell, a future teammate of Pringle at Louisiana Tech. University of Alabama signee Tamara Williams had 10 rebounds.

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