High school hoops playoffs set to resume

By NEMS Daily Journal

With their regular-season schedule including multiple higher-classified teams, the Biggersville Lions might have gotten lost in the post-season talk.
But now that the playoffs are here, and Biggersville is strictly playing Class 1A schools, the Lions surely have as much momentum as the next team.
The Lions (24-7) will get to continue their postseason march, along with a batch of other Northeast Mississippi teams as quarterfinal action in classes 1A-4A tips off today.
A total of 37 teams from the Journal’s circulation area – 19 girls and 18 boys – will be in action, most of them today. Nine area schools are serving as North tournament hosts.
Losers in today’s quarterfinals and Friday’s semifinals – 6A and 5A teams resume play on Friday – will see their seasons come to an end.
Biggersville is hosting the 1A North Mississippi Tournament, and will play West Oktibbeha (22-8) at 4 p.m.
“West Oktibbeha, in my eyes, is one of the best 1A teams in the North, a tremendous team with a lot of length,” said Biggersville coach Cliff Little, who coached East Webster to the 2008 1A championship. “They’ve played a quality schedule, and beat some quality teams.”
Little said he is concerned about the height of his opponent today which features two 6-foot-4 players. But Biggersville can counter with speed, and its own inside force in Dexter Stafford.
“We need to take advantage of our home court, and take advantage of our speed,” Little said. “If we get in a half court game with that crew, they’ll dominate the glass.”
Belmont’s Lady Cardinals have won 23 straight games since losing to Itawamba AHS Dec. 8 on a last-second shot in the Nettleton Tournament.
“We’re just a couple of possessions from being 31-0,” said Belmont coach Chris Higginbottom, whose team’s other two losses were to Pontotoc (two points) and Myrtle (one point). “We’ve learned from those early experiences and have grown from them.”
Belmont (28-3) hosts Velma Jackson (28-3) at 4 p.m. today in the North Mississippi 3A quarterfinals.
The winner will advance to the semifinals Friday to play the South Pontotoc-Independence winner. Ripley plays East Side while Nettleton takes on Charleston in the opposite bracket.
“It’s unfortunate that we catch Velma Jackson on a Thursday, but you take them as they come,” Higginbottom said.
Belmont won the state title in 2010; Ripley is the defending state champion.
“Our goal is to win it all,” Higginbottom said. “Our four seniors – Leslie Robinson, Angelia Allen, Kelsie Montgomery and Jada Luster – have stepped up their leadership.”
Contributing: Gene Phelps, David Wheeler.

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