By NEMS Daily Journal
– The 13 teams in the Daily Journal’s coverage area that are competing in the MHSAA State Tournament at Jackson’s Mississippi Coliseum:
BELMONT LADY CARDINALS
– Coach: Chris Higginbottom
– Record: 31-1
– 3A Semifinal Game: North 1, Belmont vs. South 2, Franklin County, 1 p.m. Saturday
– Leaders: F Anna Brooke Page 20.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.7 bpg; G Zoe Hammock 12.9 ppg, 2.5 apg; G Leslie Robinson 8.1 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.8 spg
– Belmont takes pride in its full-court pressure defense, while also focusing every practice on its rebounding. … Belmont has several players who can score, both inside and outside. Page, a go-to player, and Morgan Pearson, a sophomore, can score inside, while Hammock and Robinson can knock down 3s. … Belmont hopes its free-throw shooting will be at its best in the clutch, after going 4 of 9 from the line in the final quarter vs. Ripley Monday and missing 17 free throws in its only loss of the season, to New Site.
H.W. BYERS LADY LIONS
– Coach: Jason Thompson
– Record: 27-7
– 1A Semifinal Game: North 2, H.W. Byers vs. South 1, McAdams, 1 p.m. today
– Leaders: G/F Kourtney Coleman 16.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.7 spg; G Alexis Hardaway 15.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.6 spg; F/C Kyra Gulledge 10.9 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.8 bpg
– Thompson said defense, rebounding and post play have gotten his team to the state semis. … Without Rachel and Amanda Jones this year, Thompson said his team has missed the “focus, experience, and leadership to carry us through the tough times and difficult situations.” … Senior guard Brionne Gulledge, who would start on most teams, comes off the bench and contributes greatly on both ends of the floor.
LAFAYETTE LADY COMMODORES
– Coach: Amy Sutton
– Record: 29-2
– 4A Semifinal Game: North 2, Lafayette vs. South 1, Raymond, 6:30 p.m. Monday
– Leaders: G Shaquilla Isom 16.6 ppg, 4.3 apg, 4.3 spg; PG Mykira Buford 8.3 ppg; C Phylisha Fondren 9.2 ppg, 5.2 rpg
– The Lady Commodores’ lone losses this season were to top-ranked New Albany, which included a double OT loss in the North finals. … Isom, a junior, leads the team with 27 blocked shots. … Buford stepped up with 21 points in the North final against New Albany.
MYRTLE LADY HAWKS
– Coach: Chris Greer
– Record: 20-15
– 1A Semifinal Game: North 1, Myrtle vs. South 2, West Lincoln, 9 a.m. today
– Leaders: C Aspriona Gilbert 20.5 pgg, 9.3 rpg; PG Halle Knowles 9.4 ppg, 4.2 apg, 4.2 spg; G Keanna Cox 11.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg
– The Lady Hawks have won 6 of 7 games in the postseason after finishing the regular season 14-14. … The 6-foot-3 Gilbert missed the early part of the season with a leg injury. … Knowles is considered the team’s top defender.
NEW ALBANY LADY BULLDOGS
– Coach: John Stroud
– Record: 31-0
– 4A Semifinal Game: North 1, New Albany vs. South 2, NE Lauderdale, 1 p.m. Monday
– Leaders: F Jazmine Spears 19.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg; P Micha Washington 13.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg; G Kebrina Lucas 11.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 5.4 apg, 3.5 spg
– The Lady Bulldogs rely on their strong inside attack of Spears and Washington on both ends of the floor. … G Nyambi Penson leads the team in 3-point shooting with 39. … Spears leads the team with 36 blocked shots.
NEW SITE LADY ROYALS
– Coach: Byron Sparks
– Record: 30-1
– 2A Semifinal Game: North 1, New Site vs. South 2, Hinds AHS, 6:30 p.m. today
– Leaders: F Krystal Jackson 18.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg; G Bree Harris 15.9 ppg; C Darrah Pharr 10.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg
– Jackson gives the Lady Royals an inside, outside force with her ability to penetrate and shoot the jumper. … Harris, who has made 79 3-pointers, forces opponents to guard the perimeter. … PG Carleigh King is a tough defender and leader in charges taken.
RIPLEY LADY TIGERS
– Coach: Katie Bates
– Record: 22-9
– 3A Semifinal Game: North 2, Ripley vs. Choctaw Central, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
– Leaders: G LaNaesha Cox 11.3 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.0 spg; G Shunquest Howell 11.0 ppg, 4.1 apg, 2.6 rpg, 2.3 spg; C Becca Ruckes 11.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.2 spg
– Bates says her team plays man-to-man pressure defense pretty effectively. … She added that her team has the size inside and the speed on the outside to form a good inside-outside game. … The Lady Tigers have a couple of guards and a post player that come off the bench and fill in nicely.
– Coach: Jason McKay
– Record: 29-4
– 2A Semifinal Game: North 1, Baldwyn vs. South 2, Loyd Star, 8 p.m. today
– Leaders: P/F Marcell Lucas 21.2 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 63 blocks; G Reggie Patterson 12.6 ppg, 4.3 apg; G Ian Burress 10.1 ppg, 4.2
n The Bearcats have a young, but experienced backcourt with Patterson and Burress, both sophomores, and freshman Dee Gates. … Lucas and F Devin Lindsey, a LB on the football team, are solid inside. … Baldwyn’s last trip to state was in 1999.
HOLLY SPRINGS HAWKS
– Coach: Naylond Hayes
– Record: Holly Springs 27-4
– 3A Semifinal Game: North 1, Holly Springs vs. South 2, Forest, 2:30 p.m. Saturday
– Leaders: F/C Jonathan Bownes 14.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg; G/F Darius Dowdy 12.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.1 spg; G/F Ryan Wilkins 10.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg
– Hayes said his team is peaking at the right time. … He also said he hopes his team doesn’t lose any of its timing since it will be a week since last playing. … The Hawks have prepared for the different scenery and depth perception they will face at the Mississippi Coliseum – with the goals rolled in instead of hanging from the ceiling – by practicing at other gyms. … Hayes said Bownes, a junior, has “matured very fast,” and Dowdy, a junior, has been “consistent throughout the years.”
– Coach: Norris Ashley
– Record: 28-6
– 1A Semifinal Game: North 2, Ingomar vs. South 1, Durant, 2:30 p.m. today
– Leaders: C Zach Carnell 22.8 ppg; G Matt Purvis 16.4 ppg; G Steven Foster 7.4 ppg
– Senior players Clay Kidd, Tyler McCay, Tyler Jarvis, Carnell and Purvis lead an Ingomar defense that allowed only 52.8 points per game during the North Tournament. … Ingomar needs to get the ball in the hands of shooting guard Purvis and big man Carnell as much as possible, as the two have had a hot hand in the postseason, combining to average 44.8 points in four North Tournament games. … The Falcons’ outside shooting has been dismal of late: 4 of 19 vs. Ray Brooks and 2 of 17 vs. Myrtle.
– Coach: Jonathan Ashley
– Record: 28-5
– 1A Semifinal Game: North 1, Myrtle vs. South 2, McAdams, 10:30 a.m. today
– Leaders: G David Wilson 15.7 ppg; C Jimel Judon 15.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg; G Robert Montgomery 9.9 ppg, 2.4 spg
– The Hawks defeated state entry Ingomar 4 of 5 times this season, including the North championship game. … Will Gregory leads the team with 47 3-pointers made. … Judon, an Ole Miss baseball signee, has recorded 12 blocks and 122 deflections.
– Coach: Jon Ginn
– Record: 21-13
– 4A Semifinal Game: North 1, Pontotoc vs. St. Stanislaus, 2:30 p.m. Monday
– Leaders: G/F Josh Green 16.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 2.8 spg; G/F Andrew Bell 13.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.1 apg; F Griffin McCormick 9.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.6 apg
– The Warriors have greatly improved their rebounding. … Pontotoc will have to neutralize St. Stanislaus’ size – the Rock-a-Chaws have two 6-foot-8 players they like to feed the ball inside to – in order to win, says Ginn. … St. Stanislaus can play fast and slow, but “really likes to take the air out of the ball,” added Ginn. He said the Rock-a-Chaws aim to limit the number of possessions for their opponents, and will try to keep Pontotoc “from getting up and down the floor.”
– Coach: Greg Carter
– Record: 27-2
– 6A Semifinal Game: North 1, Starkville vs. South 2, Biloxi, 2:30 p.m. Wednesday
– Leaders: F Rashad Perkins 23.5 ppg, 13.7 rpg; G Edward Townsel 19.4 ppg, 4.8 spg; G Jacolby Mobley 11.4 ppg
– Starkville enters the state tournament riding a 12-game win streak. The Yellowjackets’ two losses were back-to-back against Tupelo and Lanier. … C Gavin Ware, who stands 6-8, averages 8.2 rebounds. … Perkins has committed to Southern Miss.
Capsules compiled by Gene Phelps and John Wilbert