By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
FULTON – Itawamba AHS Lady Indians head coach Devin Hill feels his team is in a hole in Division 1-4A play of their own making.
The Lady Indians undid part of that hole Friday.
Avoiding the division leader Shannon Lady Raiders hustling style of play, the Lady Indians imposed their quickness and controlled the tempo for a 71-52 victory in a battle of top teams in 1-4A. It was the first division loss for Shannon, who fell to 6-1 in division play.
“We like to focus on the game we’re playing and (make) the other team play our brand of basketball,” Itawamba head coach Devin Hill said. “We controlled ourselves tonight.”
After a bit of back-and-forth to begin the contest, Itawamba closed the first quarter with a bit of a push. Kim Mallory began the final two minutes of the period with a layup, the beginning of a 7-2 spurt.
Mallory, who finished with 28 points, also ended the period with a rebound and basket with 4 seconds to play for a 22-14 lead by the Lady Indians.
Itawamba held form in the second quarter, finding ways around the physical Shannon defense. Constance Dunn pushed the ball down the court quickly for a fast-break layup with 5 seconds left in the half for a 39-30 advantage.
“I think we dug ourselves a hole in division play,” said Hill, whose Lady Indians improved to 16-4 overall and 4-2 in the division. “We got out of that hole by one game tonight.”
The portion of the contest that put Itawamba over the top was to begin the third quarter. There, the Lady Indians out scored the Lady Raiders 17-2, with Mallory and Jamyia Hill each hitting two baskets, increasing their lead to 54-32.
Itawamba’s biggest advantage was in the fourth quarter at 67-39.
Tori Mallory tallied 13 points for Itawamba. Bieh Mitchell was tops for Shannon with 15.
(B) Shannon 104, Itawamba AHS 42: A tremendous defensive effort by the Raiders (16-5, 6-1) propelled them to a 38-4 first quarter lead.
“We played well especially on defense, and that’s what we’ve been focusing on all season,” Shannon head coach Cedric Brim said. “We were able to get in transition, and that’s what we like to do.”
Five Raiders scored in double figures, with Sean Watkins leading the way with 21.
Shannon remained in second place in the division with the victory.