By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
BOONEVILLE – The Ripley girls started Wednesday night’s Division 1-3A Tournament semifinal with Kossuth hitting on all cylinders, but eventually had to rally for a 58-51 victory.
Ripley raced to a 17-7 first-quarter lead, but the determined Lady Aggies squad took that punch and turned it into a dogfight. They got as close as 26-22 by halftime on 12 points from Parrish Tice and took a two-point lead with 3:27 to play in the third quarter.
Ripley (25-4)punched back with a press, outscoring Kossuth 25-16 over the final 11 minutes to win.
Ripley, the Daily Journal’s No. 1-ranked area’s girls team, advanced to their fourth straight 1-3A title game and earned a home game to start next week’s North tournament.
Ripley coach Katie Bates said fouls made the biggest difference. Ripley Dandy Dozen Jayla Chills and starting point guard Zaida Cox missed parts of the second quarter with two fouls each. Kossuth nailed 10 of 12 free throws to stay in the game. They shot 21 of 25 for the game.
“We knew if we could get to the basket we could draw some fouls,” said Kossuth coach Rick Howell. “We spread out and used our dribble-drive offense, and it worked for us.”
“Fouls,” said Bates. “In the second quarter we started fouling, silly fouls, out-of-position fouls. That gave them easy points on the free throw line and got them back in the game.”
Kossuth scored the first four points of the third quarter to tie the game at 26. They took a brief 35-33 lead on a Baylee Turner 3-pointer. Ripley got a layup from Chills, a steal and low-post basket from Jada Rich to reclaim a 37-35 lead and never trailed again.
They built a 51-43 lead on a Daisha Colom jumper with 4:28 remaining.
“I knew they would play us hard,” added Bates. “When we needed stops, we got the stops, rebounds and shots that we wanted.”
The Lady Tigers got a huge game from Matavia Cox, who came off the bench for 17 points. Chills and Colom each added 16.
Tice led Kossuth (11-11) with 19 points.