By Jay Tidwell/Special to the Journal
ECRU – North Pontotoc’s lineup this year is nearly the same as last year’s. The results couldn’t be more different.
The Lady Vikings used a scoring spree in the third quarter to pull away from Louisville and coasted to a 63-47 win in a Class 4A North basketball opener on Monday.
The team that finished 9-19 and last in Division 1-4A last season has now climbed to 25-6 and is headed to the North tournament which begins on Thursday in Pontotoc.
“We’ve made a big turnaround this year, and hopefully we’ll ride it out,” said North Pontotoc coach Shane Montgomery. “The bottom line is confidence. They believe they can win, and last year they didn’t.”
The Lady Vikings, the No. 2 seed from Division 2-4A, showed lots of self-assurance in the third quarter. After holding a narrow lead at intermission (23-21), they opened the period with an 11-2 run and kept adding to their lead.
Top scorer Andrea Lewis managed only one field goal in the first half, but broke loose for 21 second-half points – 14 during the third quarter.
“At first, we were picking up dumb fouls and not really playing defense,” said Lewis, one of four junior starters who were also starters last year. “The second half, we came out and took care of the ball.”
Arriann Henry, also a junior, scored eight during the run that eventually gave them a comfortable 48-29 lead heading into the final period. She finished with 12.
Chelsea Mabry, a 6-foot-3 junior post player, also scored 12 for North.
Tyesha Davis netted 12 points to lead the Lady Wildcats (14-13), the No. 3 seed from Division 4-4A.
“I knew they would be big and would shoot the ball well,” said Louisville coach Hilute Hudson. “I thought our speed would help us. But they made up in fundamental basketball for what they lacked in speed.”