By Gene Phelps
NEW ALBANY – Win the boards, win the game.
Pontotoc’s one-two inside punch of 6-foot-5 freshman Ty Jones and 6-2 junior Kaleb Barnes combined for 35 points and 18 rebounds Tuesday to lead the Warriors to a 72-62 non-division 4A win against New Albany.
“They killed us on the boards,” New Albany coach Brad Gray said. “They got a lot of offensive boards and putbacks … that’s never good.”
New Albany (9-4) led 21-11 early in the second quarter following a putback by Rashad McWilliams.
Pontotoc (9-7) answered with an 11-1 run and tied the score at 22-all on a 3-pointer by Delvin Zinn.
The Warriors led 30-27 at halftime, then blew the game open behind the powerful inside work of Barnes in the third quarter. He scored nine of his 16 points to drive a 17-6 spurt that gave Pontotoc a 47-33 lead.
“He’s relentless on the glass,” Pontotoc coach Chris Vandiver said. “He wants the ball.”
Barnes, who pulled down eight boards, was coming off a 32-point, 15-rebound game against Lafayette.
A layup the Bulldogs’ Harrison Harding in the early moments of the fourth quarter cut Pontotoc’s lead to 52-45. Jones responded by scoring 10 of the Warriors’ next 12 points to build their lead to 64-51 with 1 minute, 43 seconds remaining.
Jones finished with a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds.
“He’s the best young talent around,” Gray said. “He stayed inside tonight, but he can run, handle the ball and shoot from the perimeter.”
(G) Pontotoc 62, New Albany 29: Junior guard Marlee Hatcher scored 23 points to lead the Lady Warriors. She was the game’s lone player to score in double figures.
Pontotoc’s potent perimeter bombers (13-2) connected on just 3 of 10 attempts from 3-point range and missed a hand-full of layups in the first half, but built a commanding 32-8 halftime lead.
“We played a little sloppy on offense,” Pontotoc coach Bill Russell said. “We didn’t shoot well and we missed a lot of easy layups.”