By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – New Site lost its outside shooting touch on Friday morning, but the Lady Royals didn’t lose the game.
Attacking the basket with guards Morgan Pearson and Christy Clark, New Site eventually walked off the Mississippi Coliseum court in front of its loyal red sea of fans with a 55-45 victory over Bassfield in the MHSAA Class 2A State Tournament semifinals.
“Coach (Byron Sparks) told us to take it to the basket, that they couldn’t stop us,” said Pearson, a senior who led the Lady Royals with 22 points.
Clark, a junior, added 17 points, scoring 10 of them in the deciding fourth quarter. The score was tied 37-37 after the third quarter.
“We were settling for 3s and didn’t make them,” Sparks said. “Instead of being aggressive and trying to get to the basket, we kept shooting those outside shots. It got us in a hole.
“In the second half, we did a better job taking it to the basket, getting to the free throw line and creating points when those 3s weren’t falling.”
New Site connected on just 2 of 15 3-point field goal attempts. Pearson made both of them in the first half.
“Today they definitely weren’t falling,” said Clark, who was 0-for-4 on 3-pointers. “You have to do what it takes. If that’s getting it to the goal instead of shooting outside, then that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Let’s try again
The Lady Royals (29-4) advance to championship game for the third consecutive season, where they hope to win the Prentiss County school’s first girls state title.
They play Walnut, a team they defeated 80-36 last week in the North finals, at 1 p.m. on Thursday.
“I don’t plan on leaving without that gold ball,” Pearson said, then smiled. “This is great. Words can’t explain how special it is. It would be even greater to be the first team to win a state championship.”
Bassfield (23-4) used a late 15-0 run in the second quarter to take a 29-25 halftime lead.
“We got away from our assignments,” Sparks noted.
However, New Site stepped up its defensive play in the second half and held the Lady Yellow Jackets to just 4 of 22 from the field.
“We were not making our shots,” Bassfield coach Sylvia Hall said. “We were going in and driving, and executing, but the shots just weren’t falling.”
Hall credited New Site’s aggressive play on offense in the second half with being the difference.
“They started getting physical,” she said. “No. 10 (Pearson) is a good player. She can drive it inside or take it outside on you.”
Starla Daggan scored 13 points to lead Bassfield.