By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
NETTLETON – When Kim Mallory grabbed the rebound, she thought the game was over.
“I got the ball and threw it up,” said the sophomore forward for Itawamba AHS. “I didn’t think the ball was going in and I thought the clock had run out.”
Instead, Mallory’s shot went in at the buzzer to give the Lady Indians a thrilling 47-46 victory Thursday against the Daily Journal’s No. 5-ranked team, Belmont, in the opening round of the Nettleton Tournament.
“I guess it pays not to give up,” said a smiling Mallory, who rebounded a last-second missed shot by teammate Quay Dunn. “We were determined not to lose. I was focused.”
For IAHS (8-2), which will play in tonight’s finals against Nettleton or Vardaman, the win gave the Lady Indians some revenge for a 20-point loss to the Lady Cardinals Nov. 18 in Fulton.
Lady Indians coach Amanda Morrow said the key to beating Belmont (5-3) was stopping Angelia Allen. The talented guard scored just 13 points, but gave her team the lead, 46-45, with 11 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws.
“Allen ate us up at our place,” Morrow said. “I thought we did a good job on her tonight. We did a good job on the boards and controlling the paint.”
Belmont rallied from a 25-18 halftime deficit to take the lead, 44-41, at the 2:31 mark on a layup by Elisiah Jones on a pass from Kelsie Montgomery.
IAHS answered at 2:10 on a twisting 8-footer by Dunn to cut the Cardinals’ lead to one point.
Belmont went to its four corners game to run down the clock. Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one with 29 seconds remaining.
The Lady Indians answered the miss to take the lead, 45-44, on a fastbreak layup by Janisha Adams with 22 ticks left.
“We knew we had to get some quick fouls, put them on the line, and get the ball back,” Morrow said.
“We’d rather play games like this. You could see the confidence in these girls’ faces after this win.”
Dunn led IAHS with 17 points while Mallory added 16. Leslie Robinson, the Lady Cardinals’ talented point guard, paced her team with 18 points.