By Gene Phelps and Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Belmont’s Kelsie Montgomery has a state championship ring from 2010, but she still has an empty feeling about that season.
“I’ve got my ring, but I don’t feel like I earned it,” the Lady Cardinals forward said.
Montgomery missed most of that season after undergoing knee surgery for a torn knee ligament.
That’s the reason winning a state championship this year, her senior season, is so important.
Montgomery will get her chance to earn a second ring and a gold ball in Thursday’s rematch against rival Ripley in the state championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Ripley beat Belmont 42-39 last week in the North state campionship game.
Montgomery scored 17 points and connected on 5 of 6 3-pointers in Belmont’s 63-50 state semifinals win Saturday against Choctaw Central.
She’s played these last two seasons injury-free after undergoing four knee surgeries since the ninth grade.
“I wore a knee brace last year and it slowed me down,” she said. “It took me some time to regain my confidence. Having knee problems has motivated me more.”
THOMPSON: TUPELO’S FINE
If the MHSAA votes this spring to move the 1A and 2A portions of its state basketball tournament to Tupelo for the 2012-13 season, it will be OK with H.W. Byers coach Jason Thompson.
“This is where we strive to be – in the Big House,” he said following his team’s 75-39 Class 1A semifinals win over Bogue Chitto. “If this is possibly the last time, we wanted to make sure we came in and ended our season and our career here on a good note.”
Thompson says the Lady Lions will play the state tournament wherever they have to play.
“Tupelo’s fine with me,” he said. “It’s close to home and it’s a great facility.”
Will Northeast Mississippi’s dominance at the state tournament continue this week?
We’ll find our Monday when three more “Hill Country” teams – Pontotoc Lady Warriors, Corinth Warriors and Lafayette Lady Commodores – take the Mississippi Coliseum floor.
Pontotoc enter the semifinals with a 32-0 record.
Pollard does his part
McDonald’s All-American Devonta Pollard has six collegiate scholarship offers.
Saturday, all he was worried about was getting Kemper County to the Class 3A state championship game against 2011 champ Booneville. The 6-foot-8 forward did his part with 22 points and 14 rebounds in a 62-58 win against Aberdeen. Kemper County last won the Class 3A state championship in 1991.
Pollard, who had two putback dunks in the first half, lists Alabama, Georgetown, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri and Texas as contenders for his services.
The 3A title game is scheduled for Thursday at 8:30 p.m. The McDonald’s game is scheduled for Mar. 28 in Chicago.
Aberdeen coach Roy Hazzle was retiring from the bench after last season.
That was until his eight seniors asked him to come back. Hazzle did for his 25th season as head coach.
Following the Bulldogs’ loss to Kemper County on Saturday at the Mississippi Coliseum, Hazzle was asked about next season.
“Coaching is a love and I never want to give up on the young guys,” he said. “The decision of coming back … if I don’t, I’ll be their No. 1 cheerleader.”
Booneville coach Michael Smith noticed something after his Blue Devils beat Aberdeen for Class 3A North title last week.
He noted that one bus ride down Highway 45 could scoop up quite a few state tournament participants.
Starting in Corinth, that bus could pick up Biggersville, Booneville, Baldwyn, Tupelo and Aberdeen.
You wouldn’t have to venture too far off the path to pick up Starkville, New Site, Walnut, Ripley, Belmont, Byers, Pontotoc, Lafayette and Oxford.
And those teams have done extremely well in the state tournament so far.
Through the opening nine games involving NeMiss teams, eight still stand.
Only Aberdeen lost, leaving Prentiss County with three in the finals and Tippah with two to lead the pack.