By Blake Long/NEMS Daily Journal
RIPLEY – The past is the past and Belmont will forever be the 2009-10 Class 3A girls basketball state champions.
However, as Ripley head coach Katie Bates noted, revenge for past events is still sweet.
Playing for the sixth time in two seasons – and the first time since last year’s state championship game in Jackson – Ripley defeated Belmont 65-51 on Friday night in Division 1-3A play.
It is the first time in these six meetings for Ripley to come out the victor over the Lady Cardinals.
“You kind of want to leave the past in the past, but that’s kind of our motivation,” said Bates, “That’s one of the things we talked about, how we lost to them five times last year.
“It feels good to finally get that win, not just to beat a rival team but to get a big division win.”
Ripley’s Shunquest Howell remembers that state title game well, in which she played poorly. She made up for her efforts Friday by scoring a season-high 15 points to lead the Lady Tigers.
Ripley, which trailed 31-19 at halftime, took control soon after intermission. Starting at the 5:45 mark, Ripley went on a 12-0 run to take a 47-39 lead at the end of the quarter.
“We had 19 turnovers, which if you multiply it by two that’s 38 points we handed to them,” said Belmont coach Chris Higginbottom. “If we’re going to beat a team like Ripley, we can’t turn the ball over like that.”
Belmont, who lost its first division game in two years, could only cut Ripley’s lead to five points in the fourth quarter at 54-49 with 2:23 remaining after a pair of Leslie Robinson free throws.
From that point though, Ripley (7-1, 4-0 Division 1-3A) finished the game on an 11-2 run that was capped by an Anna Johnson layup with 26 seconds remaining.
Allen scored a game-high 18 points to lead Belmont (6-1, 3-1).
Ripley’s Jayla Chills added 12 points and India Howard had 10 to aid the winning cause.
(B) Belmont 95, Ripley 88
Acie Vance scored a game high 34 points for Ripley (5-4, 2-2) before leaving the game with a right leg injury with 2:56 remaining in the contest. Vance reentered the game just over a minute later, but did not score again.
Jon Harrison scored 32 points to lead the visiting Cardinals (4-3, 2-2).