Lady Lions blasted in semis by defending champions

OKOLONA – Hamilton scored the first point of the game. That would be the only lead they would enjoy as defending girls’ 2A champion New Site took control for the rest of the night.

Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal New Site's Christy Clark drives to the basket around Hamilton's Christy Willis in the semifinals of the Division 1-2A basketball tournament.

Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
New Site’s Christy Clark drives to the basket around Hamilton’s Christy Willis in the semifinals of the Division 1-2A basketball tournament.

New Site (25-4) jumped out to a 30-plus halftime lead and cruised from there to an 85-40 to secure a spot in tonight’s Division 1-2A girls championship game against Baldwyn.
“We really wanted to push the pace tonight and pressure them defensively tonight,” New Site coach Byron Sparks said. “The kids came out and got a quick start, and that helped us.”
A free throw from Mary Willis put the Lady Lions on the board first, but the Lady Royals went on a 10-0 run for the next three minutes with Cristen Pharr making three of those baskets.
Alainey Hughes’ 3-pointer brought Hamilton back in the game, and Christy Willis followed her shortly with a layup to cut the lead to 6.
New Site responded with a 3 from Grace Elliott and 7 straight points from Christy Clark to take a double-digit lead, and the Lady Royals led 49-18 at the half.
“They came ready to play tonight, and we didn’t,” Hamilton coach Sue Verner said. “Once we got down tonight, I feel like we gave up.”
Mary Willis opened up the second half with a two-point basket for Hamilton before Shelby Stricklen scored 5 straight to open the lead back up over 30.
The win also ensures that North state tournament host New Site plays at home until the state tournament.
“We feel good about things going into next week, as long as we play how we’re capable of,” Sparks said. “This time of the year though, one game can do you in, so we have to stay sharp and stay focused.”
With a 58-52 win over East Union in Friday’s girls consolation game of the Division 1-2A tournament, Hamilton travels to No. 2 seed South Delta on Monday.
“I think we have to start coming out and playing our game,” Verner said. “It all depends on which team comes out. Hopefully we’ll put this behind us and come out ready to play.”