By Zach Adams
FULTON – Itawamba AHS coach Devin Hill knew his team was next in line to host the 4A North Mississippi Tournament should the Lady Indians take care of first-round opponent Senatobia and Shannon were to beat would-be host Lafayette.
It wasn’t until after his squad’s 49-29 victory over the Lady Warriors, however, that Hill learned that his team’s bitter rival had, in fact, helped the Lady Indians secure home-court advantage.
“I knew Shannon was up 10 at some point, but I just found out,” Hill said. “We got what we wanted. We wanted to be at our gym, so now we have got to make the best out of it.”
Before the good news found Hill’s ears, his Lady Indians (24-8) started out slow but eventually out-muscled Senatobia (18-11). Kim Mallory scored a game-high 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half.
The Lady Indians struggled shooting for much of the first two periods, but hit crucial shots when it mattered. Jamyia Hill and Aniyah Marshall closed out the first and second periods with 3-pointers to gave IAHS a 20-14 lead at the break.
Alyssia King, 13 points, tried to keep Senatobia hanging around in the second half, but Mallory began to exert her will inside. When the senior wasn’t scoring, she was absorbing fouls and making the Lady Warriors pay from the charity stripe.
Senatobia was unable to find an answer to the Lady Indians’ suddenly well-rounded offense as Mallory and Constance Dunn, 10 points, provided the inside threat, while Hill kept kept the defense honest from the outside.
“Senatobia is a good basketball team, but we happen to be one, too, and tonight just happened to be our night,” Hill said. “Thursday is going to have to be our night and Friday is going to have to be our night for things to go the way we want them to.”
“There are a lot of good basketball teams in the North,” Hill continued. “We are just happy to be on our home court. We have only lost here once (against Pontotoc) in a game we feel like we should have won.”