By John Wilbert / NEMS Daily Journal
INGOMAR – Ripley High girls coach Katie Bates apologized to Lafayette coach Amy Sutton for her team’s poor showing in the first half of Saturday afternoon’s Renasant Bank Relay For Life Lady Challenge game.
Sutton shrugged off the apology and replied, “It was still a game, though.”
After being outscored 30-13 in the first half by the sixth-ranked Lady Commodores (17-5), the third-ranked Lady Tigers (17-4) gave their opponent all they could handle in the final two quarters before falling 51-46 at the Ingomar High School gym.
“The first half, it was just embarrassing,” Bates said after her team dropped its second consecutive game and third of its last four. “There’s no other word for it but embarrassing.
“We obviously did not get off the bus prepared to play that ballgame, and Lafayette did.”
Bates’ Lady Tigers were held to two points until the final 30 seconds of the first quarter. Lafayette led 16-5 after one and outscored Ripley 14-8 in the second period.
Nikki McChristian scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the first half for Lafayette, and she was backed by teammate Shaquilla Isom’s nine through the first 16 minutes. Isom ended up with 18 as she tallied nine more in the final half.
In the second half, Ripley’s Shunquest Howell came alive to score 12 of her team-high 14 points.
But first, it was the Lady ‘Dores upping their lead to 23, at 36-13, before the halfway point of the third period.
The Lady Tigers managed to cut the Lafayette lead to 12 (41-29) by the end of the quarter.
They then went on an 11-2 run to pull within three, 43-40, with just less than five minutes remaining. Ripley held Lafayette to without a field goal until there was 4:29 left in the quarter.
“Their intensity matched with our comfort level, that kind of caused us to lose the last two quarters,” Sutton said of her team being outscored 33-21 in the second half after leading comfortably until the fourth quarter.
Still, the Lady Tigers could not get any closer than three points the rest of the game.
“In the second half, I really thought the effort was there, but our execution is still not there,” Bates said. “And at this point of the year, it’s gotta be there. … We’re bleeding and we gotta stop the bleeding right now.”
In other action
• Houlka 48, East Union 17: Shainece McKinney scored a game-high 14 and Candis Buggs tallied 12 on four 3-pointers to lead the Lady Wildcats (14-8).
Dezjarna Bryant (seven points) and Ashley Leach (six) led the Lady Urchins.
• Hatley 66, West Union 59: Powered by Lauren Sloan’s 21 points and Deanna Wright’s 16, the Lady Tigers were able to pull out the win.
Lachelle Vance added 12 for Hatley.
Leah Paige Goolsby (14), Danielle Taylor (12) and Julianna Garner (10) all reached double figures in the loss.
• Ingomar 48, Alcorn Central 25: Kayla Stevens’ game-high 15 points and Reid Little’s and Shelly Grisham’s 13 points apiece paced the Lady Falcons.
MaKayla Voyles and Kennedy Hester each had seven to lead the Lady Golden Bears.
• New Site 52, North Pontotoc 34: The Lady Royals turned on the jets in the fourth quarter to break open a tied game through three quarters of play.
Tied at 34-all, New Site shut out the Lady Vikings 18-0 in the final eight minutes.
Morgan Pearson and Christy Clark tied for a game-high with 14 points for the ninth-ranked Lady Royals.
Chelsea Mabry also had 14 points for North Pontotoc, while teammate Andrea Lewis scored nine.
• Pontotoc 73, Choctaw Central 55: Eighth-ranked Pontotoc cruised behind the scoring of Ebony Brinker (21 points), Kayla Russell (16), Rhandi Ball (13) and LaNikki McMillian (11).
• Memphis Central 60, New Albany 45: The Daily Journal’s top-ranked team suffered another Saturday loss to an out-of-state power.
After losing to Bob Jones of Alabama last weekend, the Lady Bulldogs saw a one-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter evaporate quickly.
Jazmine Spears scored a team-high 14 for New Albany and frontcourt mate Micha Washington added 13. Nyambi Penson had nine in the loss.
• Myrtle 57, Briarcrest Christian 45: The second-ranked Lady Hawks controlled the Lady Saints all game long as post-player Aspriona Gilbert poured in 30 points, sharp-shooting Jenna Jordan knocked down four 3s and the backbone of the team, point guard Halle Knowles, scored seven of her 12 points in the fourth quarter.
Emoni Harvey scored a team-high 17 points for the Tennessee school and Adeinne McKay and Taylor Pugh had nine and eight, respectively.
• Tupelo 59, Belmont 44: Unranked Tupelo made a case for being ranked by blowing out fifth-ranked Belmont.
Chy Cunningham (15 points), Jaleigha Polk (13) and Faith Cook (12) led the Lady Wave, while Angelia Allen scored a game-high 17 and Kelsie Montgomery had 13 for the Lady Cardinals.