By Gene Phelps
JACKSON – Itawamba AHS spells state championship “30.”
As in 30 wins.
The Lady Indians – the entire team with the numeral 30 marked on their right hands – defeated Raymond 54-44 Tuesday night at the Mississippi Coliseum in the MHSAA Class 4A state tournament semifinals for the season’s 29th victory.
“Thirty has been our war chant,” IAHS coach Devin Hill said. “We’ve talked all year about trying to get to 30. If we make it to 30 it will be a good day.
“… We’ll be state champions.”
The Lady Indians (29-8) play Bay St. Louis aka Bay High (31-3) at 1 p.m. Saturday in the state championship game. It’s the first time since 1952 that a girls’ basketball team from Fulton has played for a state title.
“It’s more than exciting,” sophomore guard Constance Dunn said postgame. “I’m flabbergasted.”
Dunn scored 15 points to lead IAHS. Her final field goal – a layup after a steal by teammate Kim Mallory – all but sealed the win against Raymond with 1 minute, 57 seconds remaining.
Mallory and Dunn trapped Raymond guard Annessia Durham after she crossed halfcourt. Mallory caught her going right and slapped the ball to Dunn.
“I caught her off-guard,” said Mallory, who finished with 12 points and a pair of steals.
“All I was thinking was go all the way (to the goal),” Dunn said.
IAHS trailed Raymond until the 2:55 mark of the second quarter when Tori Mallory scored on a layup to tie the score at 16-all. The younger Mallory, a sophomore, scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds.
The Lady Indians used a late 11-4 run to take a 23-20 halftime lead.
“We finally settled in, took the lead, and never gave it up,” Hill said.
Dunn, who scored all 15 of her points in the second half, had nine in the third quarter to help IAHS take a 36-30 lead into the final eight minutes.
“She showed up and started doing what she’s been doing all postseason,” Hill said.