By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
The road to the state tournament begins tonight with the opening round of the North Mississippi girls basketball tournament.
The one exception is in a portion of Class 4A, where the weather-delayed Division 2 tournament plays its consolation and championship games today at Center Hill.
The winners and losers there play Division 1 in North half openers. The Division 1 host schools are New Albany and Pontotoc, the league’s champion and No. 2 seed.
Pontotoc coach Bill Russell plans to scout tonight’s consolation game between Center Hill and Rosa Fort. His Lady Warriors will play the winner.
“I don’t like this. Everybody else knows who they’ll play and we don’t,” he said. “We won’t have any time to prepare, but neither will our opponent. That’s just part of it.”
The first-round losers in the North half are eliminated. The winners advance to to-be-determined sites for quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Only the two finalists advance to the state tournament scheduled for Feb. 25-March 5 at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
In 1A play, Myrtle attempts to rebound from its heartbreaking overtime loss to H.W. Byers, 54-52, in the finals of the Division 2-1A tournament.
The Lady Hawks, a No. 2 seed, host Pine Grove.
“We’ve got to put it all together – inside, outside, dribbing, pressing,” Myrtle sophomore Jenna Jordan said. “We’re going to be OK. We all want to win.”
Byers, which hosts Falkner in its North opener, has played without its star, junior guard Alexis Hardaway, most of the season because of a knee injury.
Now, she’s back and improving each time on the floor. She scored 13 to help beat Myrtle.
“She’s getting a lot better,” coach Jason Thompson said. “We’re trying to work her in there. When she’s out there, we’re a better team.”