GOING TO JACKSON: 13 NEMS HS basketball teams heading to Jackson

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:

Girls teams
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
Scouting Report
– 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
Scouting Report
– 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
Scouting Report
– 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
Scouting Report
– 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
Scouting Report
– 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
Scouting Report
– 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
Scouting Report
– 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.

Boys teams
BALDWYN BEARCATS
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
Scouting Report
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
Scouting Report
– 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.”

INGOMAR FALCONS
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
Scouting Report
– 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.

MYRTLE HAWKS
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
Scouting Report
– 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.

PONTOTOC WARRIORS
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
Scouting Report
– 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.”

STARKVILLE YELLOWJACKETS
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
Scouting Report
– 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