By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Alexus Malone can see the finish line.
It’s a welcome sight.
Oxford’s 5-foot-11 junior forward missed a majority of her freshman and sophomore seasons with knee injuries – torn ACLs – that resulted in surgeries.
She’s played this entire season, wearing braces on both knees. With her help, the Lady Chargers have gone undefeated (32-0) and will play in Saturday’s MHSAA Class 5A state championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum.
“It’s a great feeling to be here and to have played a whole season,” she said. “We’re one step away from reaching our goal.”
Malone scored six points, grabbed seven rounds, blocked two shots and had two assists in Oxford’s 60-42 semifinals victory against Wayne County.
BIG HOUSE JITTERS
It didn’t take long for Oxford coach Shayne Linzy to realize his undefeated Lady Chargers were human Tuesday, as he watched them battle nerves and playing in the spacious Big House.
Oxford practiced at Ole Miss this week to get used to an open arena.
“A lot of our shots went off the backboard or rim pretty hard, which told me the adrenaline, the energy, was a little high,” he said. “… For some reason, we calmed down in the second half.”
PLAYING FOR GOLD
Oxford’s win Tuesday means the Journal’s coverage area will have at least one team in the state tournament’s first nine championship games, starting Thursday.
After Starkville’s loss in Tuesday’s late 5A boys game, Tupelo’s boys can still make it 10 of 12 with a victory today in the 6A semifinals.
There will also be no gold ball game in 6A girls for the region.
The only Hill Country teams to lose so far in the tournament have been the Lafayette girls and Aberdeen boys.
Last season, the Booneville boys and the girls teams from Byers, Ripley and New Albany brought home gold balls.