By Zach Adams
FULTON – Itawamba AHS trailed Shannon by 12 in the fourth period Friday in the 4A North semifinals, but led by senior Kim Mallory, the Lady Indians fought back and punched their ticket to Jackson with a 53-49 victory.
After scoring just two of her eventual 15 points in the first half, Mallory accounted for eight points of a 14-0 run midway through the fourth to give the Lady Indians a slim lead. She later hit a free throw with four seconds remaining to seal the contest and begin the IAHS celebration.
“I think (Kim) just realized that if she didn’t get going, that this was going to be it,” said IAHS coach Devin Hill. “She has been doing the same thing all tourament, testing the water at first then jumping in in the second half.”
After going to the break tied at 20, the game took a turn in the third when Shannon (18-8) began create turnovers on defense. Alexandrea Metcalf, who led the Lady Red Raiders with 15 points, hit a 3-pointer off a steal and Quin Agnew, 10 points, scored down low to power an 11-2 run that gave Shannon a 34-26 edge.
Shannon pushed the lead to 12 in the fourth, but the Lady Indians (25-8) turned the tables.
A more aggressive IAHS defense created turnovers of its own allowing Constance Dunn, 15 points, and Tori Mallory, 13 points, to take advantage by knocking down a pair of free throws and driving the lane for a layup.
The Kim Mallory outburst gave the Lady Indians the lead and IAHS looked to pull away until a Metcalf 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining made it a 50-49 game. The ball somehow found its way into Mallory’s hands twice as Shannon fouled to preserve clock. The senior hit 3 of 4 from the stripe in the final minute to put the game away.
“It was all effort. Our girls just have a never say die mentality,” IAHS coach Devin Hill said. “We always say, ‘finish strong. No matter what’s going on, focus on where you’re going.’ We were trying to get to Jackson from the very beginning and we did that tonight.”
Gentry 40, Cleveland 38: Gentry’s Asya Moton hit a 3-pointer with 1:52 remaining to break a late tie and allow the Lady Rams to escape with the semifinal victory.