RIPLEY – The Ripley Lady Tigers won the first half, but the Itawamba AHS Lady Indians won the second half and the game 65-61 on Friday.
In a possible Class 4A playoff preview, No. 3 Itawamba outscored No. 5 Ripley 48-32 in the second half to escape with a victory.
“We just started to match their level of physicality,” said IAHS coach Devin Hill. “We pride ourselves on being a physical team and in the first half, Ripley was giving it to us. I told them they have to woman-up because they are being more physical than you and that’s our identity.”
Leading 29-17 at the break, Ripley scored the first five points of the second half to take a commanding 34-17 advantage. And then the tables turned.
A 3-pointer by Constance Dunn sparked a 24-9 Itawamba run to trim Ripley’s lead to 45-41 by the end of the quarter. Dunn had a pair of 3-pointers in the run, while Jamyia Hill and Aniyah Marshall also added 3-point buckets.
Ripley (19-5) pushed ahead 49-41 to start the fourth but the Lady Indians pushed back with a 14-6 run to tie the game at 55-55 on another 3-pointer from Marshall with 2:25 to play. A pair of Matavia Cox free throws gave Ripley a short-lived 57-55 lead.
The Lady Indians then got back-to-back steals and layups by sisters Kim and Tori Mallory to go ahead 59-57, their first lead since the opening quarter.
“I thought we executed great in the first half and in the second half, they changed their defense a little and it gave us trouble handling the ball. We have to be mentally tougher and execute better,” said Ripley coach Cliff Ormon.
Kim Mallory led Itawamba (19-6) with 16 points, Hill and Marshall added 14 and Dunn 13. Matavia Cox led Ripley with 26 points, Jada Rich added 14 and Zaida Cox 11.
(B) Ripley 74, Itawamba 51: Isaiah Howard led Ripley (17-6) with 22 points, while Canaan Ratliff added 17. Andrew McDonald led IAHS with 16 points.