By David Wheeler/Special to the NEMS Daily Journal
OKOLONA – After one of the toughest December schedules this side of Ripley, the New Site Lady Royals disappeared into division play.
But now the calendar is in the postseason, and the defending Class 2A state champions re-announced themselves Friday with an 81-49 victory over the Baldwyn Lady Bearcats in the Division 1-2A championship game.
“This time of year, your record doesn’t matter,” said New Site head coach Byron Sparks, whose Lady Royals improved to 26-4. “You’ve got elevate your game.”
“Our experience is good, they know what to expect at this point in the season.”
The Lady Royals knew to take control of this contest early against the Lady Bearcats (20-7), a team they had already beaten twice during the regular season.
After a slow first portion of the opening quarter, New Site threw in a quick 8-0 run for a 10-2 lead. Then the Lady Royals closed the period on an 8-2 spurt, with all eight points by Christin Pharr, for an 18-8 advantage.
Another New Site scoring effort in the second quarter pretty much decided this matchup. A 14-0 run saw Grace Elliot begin the spurt with a driving layup, then close it with a 3-pointer as the Lady Royals eventually claimed a 37-18 halftime lead.
“We really pushed the ball after defensive rebounds,” Sparks said. “We were able to run the floor and get some easy baskets.”
Pharr scored 25 points for paced New Site and Elliot had 23. Timaya Stewart tallied 20 for Baldwyn.
“I don’t think we played intense for four quarters,” Baldwyn head coach Reneetra Shelley said. “We couldn’t get it going, too many turnovers.”
Both teams host 2A North Tournament games Monday, with Riverside at New Site and O’Bannon at Baldwyn.