By Melissa Meador/Monroe Journal
OKOLONA – Hamilton scored the first point of the game. That would be the only lead they would enjoy, as defending girls’ 2A champion New Site took control for the rest of the night.
New Site (25-4) jumped out to a 30-plus halftime lead and cruised from there to an 85-40 win to secure a spot in tonight’s Division 1-2A girls championship game against Baldwyn.
“We really wanted to push the pace tonight and pressure them defensively,” New Site coach Byron Sparks said. “The kids came out and got a quick start, and that helped us.”
A free throw from Mary Willis put the Lady Lions (19-9) on the board first, but the Lady Royals went on a 10-0 run over the next three minutes. Cristen Pharr hit three field goals during that stretch.
Alainey Hughes’ 3-pointer followed by a layup from Christy Willis cut the lead to 6 before New Site pulled away.
The Royals responded with a 3 -pointer from Grace Elliott and seven straight points from Christy Clark, who led New Site with 19 points, to take a double-digit lead, and the Lady Royals led 49-18 at the half.
“They came ready to play tonight, and we didn’t,” Hamilton coach Sue Verner said. “Once we got down tonight, I feel like we gave up.”
Mary Willis opened up the second half with a 2-point basket before Shelby Stricklen scored five straight to open the lead back up over 30.
Hamilton faces East Union in today’s girls consolation game and will go on the road for Monday’s North state play-in game.
The win ensures that North state tournament host New Site plays at home until the state tournament.
“We feel good about things going into next week,” Sparks said. “This time of the year though, one game can do you in, so we have to stay sharp and stay focused.”