By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
It’s brother vs. brother tonight in Ripley when Grant Gardner’s Ripley Tigers host Guy Gardner’s Belmont Cardinals.
“The whole family is pulling for Guy,” Grant Gardner said. “I get to be the bully and the bad guy all at one time. I’m fine playing that role as long as we win.”
The brothers – Grant the older – are Baldwyn graduates and former Bearcat standouts, facing off for the first time.
“If we lose, there won’t be any more holidays at our house,” Grant Gardner said. “It’s a Civil War, like a ‘Loser Leaves Town’ match. I knew it was coming. We always knew we were going to be coaches.”
Guy hopes to see a different result than he saw on the playground.
His Cardinals come into the game with a 10-9 overall record, 1-1 in the division.
Ripley (14-9, 1-3) comes into the key Division 1-3A matchup with a shell of the team that started the season. Four of the Tigers’ starters from opening week are no longer playing. Senior Anfernee Rutherford and leading scorer Malik Pearson are both out for the season, Rutherford with a back issue and Pearson with a torn ACL. Marques Girley transferred to a school in Memphis.
Deion Palmer is leading the Tigers with 11.8 points per game. Trent Moses leads the Cardinals with 14 points per game.
Personnel losses haven’t kept the Tigers out of games. The three division losses are by a combined 11 points.
“That’s part of it. We’ve had some kids step up. We’ve played well,” Grant Gardner said.
BIG 3A BATTLE
Top 10 Journal teams are scheduled for a big Division 2-3A game Friday when Mooreville visits Aberdeen. The No. 6 Troopers are 21-3 on the season. Both are 3-0 inside the division. No. 4 Aberdeen (16-5) is getting 14 points per game from Rico Haughton. Austin Timms scores 15 per game for Mooreville.
The Robertson’s Sportswear Challenge features eight games Saturday at North Pontotoc. No. 6 Itawamba AHS faces No. 10 Tupelo at 12:30 p.m. Fifth-ranked Belmont closes the night against North Pontotoc.