By Kedrick Storey
PINE GROVE – There was a familiar face on the opposite sidelines as Ripley’s girls defeated Pine Grove 48-35 on Tuesday night.
It was Ripley’s seventh straight regular-season victory over Pine Grove. However, it was the first time the Lady Tigers did it against their former coach, Katie Bates. Bates is in her first year at Pine Grove after six at Ripley, where she led the program to four consecutive state tournaments and a 2011 state title.
“It’s a little nerve-racking sitting on the other side of Ripley,” said Bates, whose Lady Panthers lost for the first time in four outings. “They expect to win, and they are going to work hard and get after you, so I definitely felt what other coaches have felt in the past. It was a little bitter-sweet because I want to see them do good, but I wanted to beat them tonight.”
Zaida Cox scored 15 points to lead Ripley (3-0), which also got 14 from Matavia Cox and 12 from Jada Rich.
“It felt weird at first,” said Cox, who played for Bates for two seasons. “But later on in the game I guess I got used to it just played my game.”
Pine Grove led 13-7 after one quarter, before Ripley bounced back behind seven post points from Rich in an 18-5 second quarter to lead 25-18 at the break. The Lady Panthers got a pair of buckets from Anna Dixon to close within 34-29 by the end of the third, but seven straight points by junior Zaida Cox put the Lady Tigers up 43-33 with less than five minutes remaining. Cox scored 10 points in the final frame.
Ripley coach Cliff Ormon, who was coaching his first game at Pine Grove, where he coached for eight seasons, said the game was hyped about the coaches, but it was really about the players.
“You could tell the girls knew what was going on, but it was about the players,” said Ormon. “She had her team well prepared and both teams played with tremendous effort.”
Aaliyah Akins led Pine Grove with 12 points.
(B) Ripley 80, Pine Grove 45: Ripley’s Malik Person scored a game-high 23 points. Eli Jumper had 19 for Pine Grove.