GENE PHELPS: Moves, non-moves pay off in Jackson

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

Notes and quotes from a week at the Big House …
Kristen Dickerson had a gut feeling she needed to stay in Oxford and play basketball this season for the Lady Chargers.
The decision not to move – to Boiling Springs, N.C. – paid off for the 5-foot-7 senior guard. Oxford defeated South Jones 62-54 Saturday in Jackson to win the MHSAA Class 5A state championship.
“I had a better chemistry with these girls,” an excited Dickerson said after the game. “This is amazing. This makes my decision (to stay) much better.”
Kristen’s father, Ron, was wide receivers coach for Ole Miss from 2008-10 before taking a job as head coach at Gardner-Webb University. The younger Dickerson didn’t make the move in order to play her senior season for the Lady Chargers.
Despite getting into early foul trouble, she scored eight points and had a steal for unbeaten Oxford (33-0) in the finals.
For Pontotoc’s talented guard, Quinndella Ford, the decision to transfer from Okolona was good for her and the Lady Warriors, who beat Forrest County AHS 72-68 to finish undefeated (34-0) and win the Class 4A state championship.
Ford, an Ole Miss signee, scored 28 points and helped her team rally from a 9-point deficit.
“This feels great,” she said outside a jubilant Pontotoc dressing room. “Even when we got behind, coach (Bill Russell) told us we could still do this. We played as a team and took over.”
Russell’s daughter, Kayla, knocked down a 3-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Oxford and Pontotoc were not the only Daily Journal coverage-area girls team to win a gold ball last week at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Belmont (3A), New Site (2A) and H.W. Byers (1A) all captured state titles.
There was probably no player happier than Belmont’s 5-11 senior forward Kelsie Montgomery at the postgame awards ceremony following the Lady Cardinals’ 39-38 win against rival Ripley.
Montgomery, who missed her freshman and sophomore seasons because of knee injuries and surgeries, hit clutch fourth-quarter 3-pointers against Ripley (two) in the finals and Choctaw Central (three) in the semifinals.
Montgomery has a championship ring from 2010, but said she didn’t feel like she deserved it because she was sidelined on that trip to Jackson.
“It feels a lot better to earn it,” she said. “All the hard work, all the rehab … it was worth it.”
Gene Phelps (gene.phelps@ covers high school sports for the Daily Journal.

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