By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
RIPLEY – Ripley coach Katie Bates has repeatedly said her team is not a one-person team. Saturday in the Class 3A North Mississippi tournament finals, her theory was proved again.
Sophomores Jada Rich and Zaida Cox scored 17 of Ripley’s final 21 points and they came back to win 66-61 over Charleston. Cox had 11 in the fourth and finished with a team-high 20. Rich added 15 and three key fourth-quarter rebounds.
It was the school’s third straight North girls title.
“We’ve talked about as a team all year about how our run is going to depend on this sophomore class,” said Bates. “Jayla and Daisha are going to get points, but that sophomore class, they are the spark. If they are going, we are in pretty good shape.”
Ripley (30-4) trailed 52-47 after a 3-pointer by Alexis Ross. Ross hit four from beyond the arc for 18 points. Following a Bates timeout, Ripley’s intensity increased led by the two sophomores.
Cox scored five straight on two free throws and a left wing 3-pointer to tie the game at 52 with 5:19 to play. Cox sank another runner and found Rich down low twice and Ripley led 60-56 with 2:17 to play. Ross sank a second 3-pointer and Charleston (25-5) led 61-60 with 1:40 to play.
Coming up big
Cox and Rich got the free throw line sinking four in a row, while Chills added a pair to make it six in a row over the final two minutes to seal it. Chills finished with 19.
“They came through so big,” added Bates.
Chills had 15 points in the first half, as she helped Ripley lead 34-32 at halftime. Fellow senior Daisha Colom had eight points in her final game at the RHS Event Center.
Charleston was led by Aqueshia Kimble who had a game-high 21 points. Mary Washington added 15.
‘Ripley made the free throws and we missed some key shots,” said Charleston coach Jeff Hollings-worth. “When Ripley got the lead back we just never could get over that hump.”
Ripley faces SE Lauderdale, on March 2 at 1 p.m. at the Big House in Jackson. Charleston plays Choctaw Central at 6:30 p.m.