By Gene Phelps
JACKSON – There was a time during the season when senior forward Kim Mallory wondered if Itawamba AHS had the right stuff to be a contender.
Now, she knows.
“We started kind of “iffy” … and now we can win it all,” she said.
Mallory’s Lady Indians (29-8) play defending state champion Bay St. Louis (31-3) at 1 p.m. today in the MHSAA Class 4A State Tournament championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Actually, IAHS started the season 9-1 and beat Class 3A state finalist Belmont. In late December, the Lady Indians defeated Class 6A state finalist Olive Branch.
However, the team did struggle with close regular-season losses in powerful Division 1-4A. They split with Shannon and lost two to Pontotoc. As a matter of fact, it was a lopsided third loss to Pontotoc, 64-39, in the division tournament championship game at Itawamba Community College’s Davis Event Center, that seems to have kick-started the Lady Indians.
“That loss was a back-breaker,” IAHS coach Devin Hill said. “Our legs were dead. Pontotoc was three steps faster and hit everything they shot. They gave us a kick in the butt.”
That was some kick. The Lady Indians have since won five straight, including the North state championship.
“We got rolling after that loss,” Hill said. “We’re playing our best ball. That’s what you want. Our tough schedule also prepared us for this moment. There’s nothing we haven’t seen.”
Mallory, a 5-foot-10 Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game selection, leads the team in scoring (14.9 ppg) and rebounding (6.9 rpg).
“As she goes, our team goes,” Hill noted. “She’s so unselfish. She lets her game come to her.”
Mallory’s younger sister, sophomore Tori, scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds in the Indians’ semifinals win, 54-44, against Raymond.
Constance Dunn, a sophomore guard, led IAHS with 15 points in the semifinal game.
“She’s doing what she’s done all postseason,” Hill said.
Bay St. Louis is led by forward Christa Reed, a Vanderbilt signee who averages 28 points per game.
This will be the 10th state championship game for the Lady Indians’ program, but the first since 1952. IAHS, formerly Fulton, has won six state titles.
Class 4A State Tournament
• Who: Itawamba AHS (29-8) vs. Bay High (31-3)
• What: MHSAA girls 4A state championship
• When: 1 p.m. today (MPB)
• Where: Mississippi Coliseum, Jackson
• IAHS: F Kim Mallory (14.9 ppg), F Tori Mallory (11.3 ppg), G Constance Dunn (10 ppg)
• Bay: F Christa Reed (28.1 ppg), PG Jamaya Galloway (10.3 ppg)