By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – The Belmont Lady Cardinals are sporting the No. 1 seed in the Division 1-3A Tournament – and a big bullseye because of that.
Booneville tried to shoot down No. 1 in semifinal action of the tournament on Thursday, but Belmont came through the challenge just fine, moving to a 57-34 victory.
With the victory, the Lady Cardinals (26-1) advance to today’s 7 p.m. championship contest against the Ripley Lady Tigers. And most importantly, earn a spot in next week’s North Mississippi 3A Tournament.
“Tonight takes care of a goal – play in the finals of the tournament, and be able to play at home Monday in the north half,” said Belmont coach Chris Higginbottom, whose Lady Cardinals faced Booneville for the fourth time this season. “We played well in the second half, we executed on defense, and on the offensive end of the court as well.”
The Lady Devils came out and controlled the tempo in the first quarter.
Belmont did not score its first field goal until the 5 minute, 7 second mark of the first period. That basket by Jameka Bennett began a patient but key 8-0 run that put the Lady Cardinals ahead 8-3.
A 7-0 run that stretched into the second period gave Belmont a 17-6 margin.
Anna Brooke Paige paced the Belmont offense with 19 points, while no Lady Devils player was in double figures.
(G) Ripley 52, Kossuth 47
The Ripley Lady Tigers needed a strong second half to overcome the efforts of the Lady Aggies, who led 26-20 at the half.
LaNaesha Cox led Ripley with 15, and Kiki Gwyn led Kossuth with 17.
(B) Corinth 75, Kossuth 52
The boys No. 1 seed also sailed into today’s 8:30 p.m. championship contest with its win against the Kossuth Aggies.
Corinth plays Ripley, an 85-77 winner against Booneville.
“I was glad to get this game out of the way,” said Corinth coach Keith Greene, whose Warriors had also played Kossuth four times. “We’ve seen a variety of zones all season long, so it’s always nice to knock down some shots like tonight.”
Corinth eased to a 31-24 halftime lead, then outscored Kossuth 23-15 in the third quarter to open up the margin to 54-39.
Steven Polk tallied 18 for Corinth, while Tony Pams hit 21 for Kossuth.
In the nightcap, Acie Vance scored 34 to lead Ripley.