The 2004 basketball season tipped off in earnest Oct. 18 as Williford and Mount Pleasant tangled in the Anthony Ford Evening Shade Classic at Burt Reynolds Gymnasium in Evening Shade.
The Lady Indians of Williford gave Mount Pleasant all they wanted before falling 42-39 to the Lady Bluebirds, while Mount Pleasant had an easier go of it in boys' action, knocking off the Indians 68-49.
The Lady Indians trailed Mount Pleasant for three periods in their matchup with the Lady Bluebirds, before a 3-pointer from Whitney Honey (17 points) switched the margin over to Williford's side just minutes into the fourth at 32-30.
Jumpers by Ashley Smith (13 points) and Tara Bray (15 points) swung things back in favor of the Lady Bluebirds, setting up a frantic finish.
Alma Sanchez (10 points) nailed a baseline jumper and Honey tossed in a layup off a steal to move the Lady Indians back on top 37-36 with 1:58 left to play.
At this point, Bray took over for the Lady Bluebirds.
Converting an old-fashioned 3-point play, she gave Mount Pleasant the lead for good at 39-37. Then she popped a baseline shot to pad her squad's lead, 41-37.
Williford didn't fold as Honey sank a jumper with 20 ticks showing on the clock with her team trailing by 2, 41-39.
Bray hit one-of-two free throws with seven seconds on the clock, leaving the door open for the Lady Indians who were down 42-39.
Moving downcourt, the Lady Indians turned the ball over looking for a 3-point shot to tie things, and Mount Pleasant held on for a 42-39 win.
The Lady Bluebirds jumped on top 13-4 at the end of the first period, holding Williford to a lone field goal in the first eight minutes of play.
Mount Pleasant extended its advantage to 22-13 at the half, but Williford outscored the Lady Bluebirds 14-8 in the third period to chop into the deficit, 30-27 after three.
Cassie Howard added seven points for Williford, while Tiffany Stanford hit three free throws and Amy Hooks tossed in a bucket for the Lady Indians.
Corie Smith hit six points for Mount Pleasant, while Karen Genslar finished with three. Erica Simpson added two, and Leslie Malland one for the Lady Bluebirds.
In boys' action, four of the seven players on Mount Pleasant's roster hit for double digits as the Bluebirds ran away from Williford late for a 68-49 win.
Nick Howard led the Mount Pleasant charge with 19, while Corey Simpson added 16, Alex Billingsly 14 and Tony Neal 10 for the Bluebirds.
The first period was tight, with Jerry Despain (13 points) giving the lead to Williford with five straight points, including a trey, late in the frame.
Simpson used a steal and layup near the buzzer to lock the game at 11-all after one.
It was much the same in the second as both squads tussled back-and-forth.
Howard closed the first half strong by knocking in a couple of buckets just before intermission to push Mount Pleasant in front 26-21 after two periods of play.
Williford's defense weakened in the third as the Bluebirds repeatedly turned the corner and drove to the hoop for layups, outscoring the Indians 23-13 in the third to cushion their lead to 49-34.
Kevin Upshaw drained a pair of 3-balls in the fourth period, but the Bluebirds maintained their lead, winning by 19 points.
Upshaw paced Williford with 17 points, while David Martin added 11. Wess Gipson finished with six, and Billy Lawrence two for the Indians.
James Liles tallied six points, and Keaton Johnson two for the Bluebirds.
The Lady Bluebirds used a 16-point performance from Bray to knock off Cord-Charlotte 38-37 at the Bluebird Nest Oct. 19.