Elliott leads area all-stars into action

basketball_icon_greenBy Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

Grace Elliott’s scoring performance in a late-season basketball game against Kossuth put a smile on her coach’s face.

The slender 6-foot-1 forward scored 39 points in New Site’s win that night.

“Thirty nine points may be stretching it, but we think she can put up numbers and carry us next year,” Lady Royals coach Byron Sparks said. “We want her to be our go-to player.”

Elliott, who averaged 15.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game this season, joins her coach and seven other Northeast Mississippi players in today’s lineup for the 50th annual Mississippi Association of Coaches North-South Girls All-Star Basketball Game at Jackson State.

The tipoff in JSU’s William Athletics and Assembly Center is scheduled for 6 p.m. The slam dunk, 3-point and free throw shooting contests are scheduled for 5. The boys game follows the girls at approximately 7:30.

Coaching interest

Elliott, Sparks says, has drawn a lot of interest from NAIA schools and community colleges as she prepares for her senior season.

“What the colleges like about her is her size and the fact that she can handle the ball and pass the ball as well as she does,” he noted. “We lift weights, but she has to get stronger. She needs to continue to improve her ball-handling skills.”

Elliott can also step out on the perimeter and shoot. She connected on 27 3-pointers this season as she adjusted to a new role. Her sophomore season she took what defenses gave her. This year, she got the ball more with opportunities to create.

“She’s so versatile,” Sparks said. “She can post up, shoot outside and can handle the ball well enough to play the point some.”

Sparks joins Horn Lake’s Janna Thompson in the North staff. He had a hand in the roster selection.

“I know these players from our area come from good programs,” Sparks said. “I think this group is intent on being competitive and winning the game, instead of showcasing their individual skills.”

gene.phelps@journalinc.com

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MAC North/South Games

When: Today – 6 p.m. (girls), 7:30 p.m. (boys); pregame: 5 p.m. (slam dunk, shooting contests)

Where: Jackson State

Area Players: Zaida Cox, Ripley; Grace Elliott, New Site; Abria Gulledge, Byers; Marlee Hatcher, Pontotoc; Katelyn Nunley, Belmont; Jaleigha Polk, Tupelo; Jabria Pounds, Nettleton.

Note: No area boys were selected.