By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
SLAYDEN – It’s been a long time since the Ashland Lady Blue Devils made a trip to the state tournament, but they now have a date to visit the Big House.
Junior guard Alontra Tucker scored 23 points Friday to help Ashland defeat Falkner 60-55 in the Class 1A North Mississippi tournament at H.W. Byers gym.
“It’s wonderful,” said third-year Ashland coach Ayesha Brooks. “I’m happy for the community, for the school and for the kids. It’s a great win for not just Ashland, but Benton County.”
Ashland faces the host team, Byers, in the North tournament title game at 7 p.m. today
Tucker scored 15 points in the first half. She helped Ashland to an early 23-10 lead on a coast-to-coast 3-point play layup. She scored the next four for the Lady Blue Devils to push the lead to 27-12.
“She’s an A-1 player,” Brooks said. “She’s very smart and she knows when she needs to turn it on.”
Falkner (18-14) trailed 31-16 before making a late surge to trim it to 33-23 by halftime. Brianna Williams, who led Falkner with 24 points, scored four points in the run.
Peterson leads Falkner
Ambreka Peterson scored 19 points for Falkner. She and Willams helped Falkner cut Ashland’s lead to 43-38 by the end of the third quarter. A Melissa Maldonado stick back got Falkner to within 48-45 with 5:15 to play. Two minutes later, Williams picked up her fifth foul.
Ashland quickly pushed the lead to 52-45. Peterson scored eight straight to keep Falkner within a bucket with under 30 seconds to play, but Ashland (11-17) got free throws by Tierra Brown, who had 10 points and Tucker to seal the win.
Freshman post Doriliyah Clardy added 12 points for Ashland.
“It was a tough one,” Falkner coach Jeremy White said. “Ambreka was sick with a stomach virus, but she played her heart out. Brianna fouling out changed the complexion of the game. The girls fought hard, but ultimately we just didn’t shoot the ball well.”