South Pontotoc responds with gritty effort

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

SPRINGVILLE – South Pontotoc coach Matt Waldrop challenged his players this week to play with more “grit” in games.
They responded Friday night against a physical Hatley team.
Waldrop’s Lady Cougars, behind a combined 25-point, second-half scoring effort from senior twin sisters Emily and Elizabeth Henson, rallied from a halftime deficit to defeat the Lady Tigers 68-57.
“They did a good job; they gritted it out,” Waldrop said. “I challenged them and they responded with tougher play.
“I felt like we had been playing soft. I told them if we didn’t bring it tonight, we wouldn’t win.”
South Pontotoc (10-4), which trailed 38-32 midway in the third quarter, closed the period with a 14-1 run to charge ahead 46-41.
Elizabeth Henson, who scored 14 points, started the Cougars’ run with a 3-pointer. Hillary Staten closed it with a layup.
“We knew we didn’t play well in the first half,” Henson said. “We like a challenge.”
Emily Henson, who scored a team-high 19, scored eight points to fuel a 16-4 run to start the fourth quarter. The spurt gave South Pontotoc a 62-45 advantage with 3 minutes, 55 seconds remaining.
“We’ve worked harder this week (after a Monday loss to Tremont) in practice,” Emily Henson said. “We came out an attacked in the second half. We hate losing.”
Hatley (6-4) trailed 25-17 early in the second quarter, but rebounded with a 14-2 run to take its 4-point halftime lead.
“Basketball is always a game of runs,” Waldrop said. “Hatley gets after you. You get winded. We had trouble finishing shots.
“Credit the girls, they kept playing hard. I was proud of the poise they showed in the second half.”
Hatley was led by 5-foot-11 post player Lauren Sloan with a game-high 21 points. Katie Beth Worthy added 12 for the Tigers.
For South Pontotoc, C.C. Costilow added 18 points and Staten had 10.
In the boys’ game, South Pontotoc rolled to a 51-26 win.
gene.phelps@journalinc.com