By Melissa Meador
SMITHVILLE – Hamilton slowed Tupelo Christian guard Claire Golding for a while, but the sophomore caught fire and scored 17 points in the second half to lead the Lady Eagles in a 41-33 win to open the Division 4-1A Tournament.
“She was a little frustrated at first, but she just keeps shooting,” TCPS coach Sarah Dillon said. “Eventually she always gets in her groove, hits some free throws and things get going from there. Our plan was to get to the free-throw line as much as possible because we can never afford to be in foul trouble.”
The teams had trouble offensively on the way to a halftime tie at 13.
In the third, back-to-back baskets from Golding, including a 3-pointer, gave TCPS its first lead. Aubrey Gilliland hit one from beyond the arc herself to tie it up again before the Lady Eagles ended the quarter on a 4-0 run.
Myiah Dobbs hit 3 of her 4 free throws to open the fourth and put the Lady Lions down by just a point before TCPS took advantage at the line from there, scoring 15 of their 17 points in the fourth off free throws.
Golding led all scorers with 22 points, while Dobbs had 17 points for Hamilton.
“We did a good job stopping (Golding) for three quarters,” Hamilton coach Sue Verner said. “But we let her get to the free throw line 17 times in the fourth quarter. We knew we had to keep her off the line to be successful.”
TCPS moves on to face No. 1 seed Vardaman on Thursday night for a spot in the championship game.