The tall Panthers beat the Journal’s top-ranked Warriors 57-45 Saturday in the MHSAA Class 4A North championship game.
Both teams had clinched state tournament berths. Elzy will play at Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum on Mar. 4 at 2:30 p.m., Corinth at 8 p.m.
Corinth couldn’t find room inside against Janarious Middleton (6-foot-9), Rahkeem Lehaman (6-4) and Gerald Glass, Jr. (6-7)
“They’re so long and so athletic. They challenge every shot,” Corinth coach Keith Greene said. “We tried to attack the rim and get some contact but they play the ball so well.”
Corinth hit only 17 of 47 shots, 1 for 13 from behind the arc. Booneville was the last team to beat Corinth at home, two years ago in the North 3A finals.
The Warriors cut a 10-point lead to four early in the fourth, but as it did all night, Elzy (29-5) answered.
Corinth (26-7) trailed by six at the half. In the opening seconds of the third quarter, Antares Gwyn had what is normally an easy lay-up. Instead, Lehaman caught up and pinned the shot from behind.
“These guys are on a mission,” Elzy coach Gerald Glass said. “We just kept our poise.”
Elzy got only two points from MSU commit Maurice Dunlap, 12 from Middleton and 10 from Lehaman, who’s headed for Middle Tennessee.
Raheem Sorrell went inside to trim the lead to 41-35 early in the fourth but Elzy’s Glass answered.
Terrel Payton scored two of his game-high 18 points to get the Warriors within four.
Sorrell and Gwyn had 11 each for Corinth.
“We couldn’t hit anything from the perimeter, very, very cold,” Greene said. “Against a team with that length, you’ve got to make some shots.”