Defense lifts Pontotoc Lady Warriors

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

FULTON – First-round byes are not always a blessing for basketball teams in the postseason.
Pontotoc’s top-seeded Lady Warriors found that out Wednesday night against Corinth in the semifinals of Division 1-4A tournament at Itawamba Community College’s spacious Davis Event Center
Pontotoc shot 34 percent and was outrebounded 32-18, but played its usual steady defense to advance to Friday’s championship game with a 47-28 victory.
The defending state champion Lady Warriors (25-3), who played without suspended post player Nikki McMillian, will face Itawamba AHS for the title.
“We didn’t shoot well, but I kind of expected that,” Pontotoc coach Bill Russell said. “It’s not always an advantage to have a bye. The other team plays a game and gets used to the facility.”
Pontotoc hit 6 of 21 3-point attempts, three by guard Kayla Russell.
Russell’s first 3-pointer and two free throws by Rosenbaum gave the Warriors a 23-9 lead. However, Corinth (11-15) closed the lead to 23-17 at halftime.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well, but we held our to 28 points … so our defense wasn’t bad,” Bill Russell said. “I’m proud of the way we played defensively.”
Hatcher scored 13 points, Rosenbaum 12 and Russell 11 for Pontotoc. Aundrea Adams led Corinth with 10.
“We’re usually all about 3-point shooting, but we weren’t hitting tonight,” Rosenbaum said.
(B) Corinth 73, Pontotoc 40: The Warriors’ inside game of 6-foot-5 Raheem Sorrell and Terrel Payton combined for 34 points and 23 rebounds.
Sorrell scored 20 points with six boards while Payton, a first-year senior, had 14 points and17 rebounds.
Corinth (22-6), No. 1 in the Journal’s final regular season rankings, advanced to Friday’s championship game against Shannon.
(B) Shannon 66, Amory 62: Lakee Westbrook scored 30 points, including six in the fourth quarter to lead the Red Raiders (21-7).
Westbrook’s 3-point play with 38 seconds remaining broke a 60-60 tie.
gene.phelps@journalinc.com