By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Biggersville didn’t need its best finish to reach the MHSAA Class 1A state championship game.
The Lions built a big lead, then held on for a 61-55 win over South champion West Lincoln on Friday in the state semifinals at Mississippi Coliseum.
“I’m proud we get to survive and play one more game,” Biggersville coach Cliff Little said. “These guys have a lot of fight.”
Biggersville, the Journal’s No. 3 team, will play Coldwater in the championship on Thursday. Coldwater beat the Lions in the title game last season and beat the Lions this season for the North championship.
Daniel Simmons and Jaylon Gaines simultaneously said they love the Coliseum’s atmosphere and it showed. Simmons scored 27 points and had 10 boards. Gaines scored 21.
The Lions (27-8) took six charges. Darian Barnett four of them. The sixth came on a would-be make that would have cut the lead to four in the fourth.
“That’s one of those deals we have really, really, really worked on,” Little said. “It was the difference in the ball game.”
The lead did go to four on Jared Case’s long 3 with less than a minute to play but lone Biggersville senior Blake Stacy’s free throw eased the cushion.
The Lions struggled from the 3-point line and free throw line, making only 4 of 17 from the stripe and 3 of 14 from long range.
Biggersvile had multiple 13-point leads in the first half, taking a 37-24 lead on Gaines’ make. They shot 53 percent and never trailed.
“They got in the lane and made some tough shots,” West Lincoln coach Lane Young said.
Biggersville answered every run, Gaines with a bucket after Case’s 3 cut the lead to six points to open the second half.
Gaines stands 5-foot-10, but out-leaped 6’7 Sam Bivens on the tip and Simmons hit a 3 to open the scoring.
The Bears (31-4) shot 31 percent for the game and got 21 from Duane Marshall and 11 from Case.