Girls Basketball: State semifinals preview capsules

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

H.W. Byers Lady Lions
- Coach: Jason Thompson

- Record: 27-8

- Road to Jackson: Beat Coffeeville 63-29, Shaw 55-33, Coldwater 55-40 in North tournament.

- 1A Semifinals: H.W. Byers vs. Bogue Chitto, 6:30 p.m. today; Coldwater vs. Ethel, 9 a.m. Saturday

- Championship: 7 p.m. March 3

- Leaders: F Kourtney Coleman 18.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg; P Kyra Gulledge 14.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg; G Alexis Hardaway 9.3 ppg

- Scouting Report: Hardaway, who was sidelined with a knee injury for part of the season, has played the last 15 games. … Coleman and Gulledge give Byers a formidable force in the paint. … The Lady Lions won the 2A state championship in 2009.

New Site Lady Royals
- Coach: Byron Sparks

- Record: 26-4

- Road to Jackson: Beat West Bolivar 48-46, Bruce 66-39, J.Z. George 44-40 in North.

- 2A Semifinals: New Site vs. Lake, 1 p.m. Saturday; J.Z. George vs. Scott Central, 6:30 p.m. Saturday

- Championship: 1 p.m. March 4

- Leaders: F Morgan Pearson 19.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg; G Christy Clark 13.0 ppg
n Scouting Report: Pearson, a 5-11 junior transfer from Belmont, gives team a scoring presence inside and outside. … Clark, a sophomore, has shouldered some of the scoring load since preseason all-state guard Krystal Jackson was sidelined in December.

Belmont Lady Cardinals
- Coach: Chris Higginbottom

- Record: 26-6

- Road to Jackson: Beat Leflore County 75-64, Kossuth 43-37, lost to Ripley 63-56 in North.

- 3A Semifinals: Belmont vs. Choctaw Central, 1 p.m. today; Ripley vs. SE Lauderdale, 9 a.m. today

- Championship: 1 p.m. March 3

- Leaders: G/F Angelia Allen 20.2 ppg, 3.0 spg; F Kelsie Montgomery 11.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg; PG Leslie Robinson 15.4 ppg
n Scouting Report: Robinson stepped up early in the season when PG Natasha Jones went down with a knee injury. … Montgomery overcame knee injuries (ACL) the last two seasons to play this year. … Belmont is the defending state champion.

Ripley Lady Tigers
- Coach: Katie Bates

- Record: 26-4

- Road to Jackson: Beat Charleston 67-27, Cleveland East Side 46-37, Belmont 63-56 in North.

- 3A Semifinals: Ripley vs. SE Lauderdale, 9 a.m. today; Belmont vs. Choctaw Central, 1 p.m. today

- Championship: 1 p.m. March 3
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- Leaders: P Becca Ruckes 12.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg; G Jayla Chills 11.4 ppg; F Shunquest Howell 10.5 ppg, 4.0 apg

- Scouting Report: The Lady Tigers lost to Belmont in last season state championship game. … Ruckes, the team’s inside muscle, needs to stay out of foul trouble. … Chills, a sophomore, and Howell, a senior, have combined for 59 3-pointers.

New Albany Lady Bulldogs
- Coach: John Stroud

- Record: 27-4

- Road to Jackson: Beat Noxubee County 71-30, Lafayette 49-35, Pontotoc 50-42 in North.
n 4A Semifinals: New Albany vs. South Jones, 1 p.m. Feb. 28; Pontotoc vs. Lawrence County, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28

- Championship: 7 p.m. March 4

- Leaders: F Jazmine Spears 17.5 ppg, 11.7 rpg; P Micha Washington 13.1 ppg, 7.9 rpg; G Kebrina Lucas 10.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg

- Scouting Report: The Lady Bulldogs have not lost to a Mississippi team this season. … Spears and Washington are tough for teams to match up with inside. … PG Porche White can shoot from the perimeter and defend. … Lucas is a strong penetrator when she’s on.

Pontotoc Lady Warriors
- Coach: Bill Russell

- Record: 24-6

- Road to Jackson: Beat Humphreys County 89-45, Byhalia 59-51, lost to New Albany 46-42 OT in North.

- 4A Semifinals: Pontotoc vs. Lawrence County, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28; New Albany vs. South Jones, 1 p.m. Feb. 28

- Championship: 7 p.m. March 4

- Leaders: F Eboni Brinker 15.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg; F Rhandi Ball 14.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg; G Kayla Russell 9.3 ppg

- Scouting Report: Russell and G Katherine Downing have combined for more than 100 3-pointers this season. … Warriors are tough to beat when Brinker and Ball are on inside and the outside game is clicking. … Pontotoc takes pride in its full-court defensive pressure.