By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – There can be different kinds of strength in the paint on a basketball court.
The Ripley Lady Tigers had examples of pretty much all its inside presence on display Saturday in the championship game of the Division 1-3A Tournament, moving past the Kossuth Lady Aggies 63-50.
“It’s really good to get this win, but of course this is what we set out to do this season,” said Ripley coach Katie Bates, whose Lady Tigers finished second in this tournament last season. “For this group of seniors, it feels good to have met a goal.”
The Lady Tigers (22-4) manifested their inside dominance in a couple of different ways.
First there was center Becca Ruckes, who scored 20 points for the contest, including a pair of field goals in the first quarter as Ripley moved to a 16-12 lead. While Ruckes was strong, India Howard and Shunquest Howell where quick to the goal, leading Ripley on a 9-0 run in the second quarter that pushed their margin to 32-18.
Kossuth still had some fight, and baskets by Annaleigh Coleman, Katie Garvin, and KiKi Gwyn in the closing seconds of the half cut the Ripley lead to 32-24.
“Our whole deal tonight was to get ahead, and stay ahead,” Bates said. “After that little surge by Kossuth, we got the momentum back.
“We really attacked the gaps with our guards, and we definitely feel comfortable with the ball in Becca’s hands inside.”
Ripley spurted again in the third quarter, this time only a 6-0 run with Ruckes scoring two baskets. Small as it was, it gave the Lady Tigers a 40-28 cushion midway through the third period, a cushion they never relinquished.
Howard also hit 20 for Ripley, and Howell added 17. For Kossuth, Garvin was high with 26.
Both Ripley and Kossuth earned the right to host Class 3A North tournament games Monday.
• (B) Corinth 71, Booneville 56: In the boys championship game, the Corinth Warriors exploded out of the gates on a 14-0 run and the host Blue Devils never really recovered.
Corinth (26-3) pushed its lead to as much as 58-33 in the third quarter.
Deione Weeks led the Warriors with 14, while Keldrick Lesley hit 23 to lead the Devils.
Both Corinth and Booneville will host North contests on Tuesday.
• (B) Alcorn Central 77, Ripley 73: A layup by Trevor Smith with 14 second to play gave the Alcorn Central Bears the lead for good.
Trae Bain was tops for the Bears with 27, and Acie Vance tallied 31 for Ripley.
• (G) Belmont 59, Corinth 42: A strong second half powered the Lady Cardinals, with Angelia Allen scoring 25.
• Game summaries, Page 2B