By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
NEW SITE – New Site’s last trip to Jackson ended in disappointment.
The Lady Royals’ long-awaited shot at redemption comes Friday night in the semifinals – the inaugural Final Four – of the MHSAA Class 2A girls state tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum.
New Site (30-1) clinched its second consecutive North state championship Saturday night with a 87-51 victory against Broad Street before a Royals-red packed house.
“Look out Jackson, here we come,” shouted a pumped-up fan during the postgame trophy presentation.
“It’s been our goal all year to get back to state and win it,” Lady Royals coach Byron Sparks said. “This has been on their minds ever since we got beat.”
New Site lost in last year’s state semifinals to Kemper County, 69-65, in overtime.
In Saturday’s title game, New Site entered halftime with an 11-point lead, 37-26, but came back on the floor to play nearly the entire third quarter without its big guns – Krystal Jackson and Darrah Pharr – both sidelined with fouls.
In their absence, senior Bree Harris stepped up from the perimeter, scoring nine of her game-high 21 points, and freshman Christy Clark came off the bench to provide 11 of her 12 points.
By the time Jackson and Pharr returned to the court in the fourth quarter the Lady Royals were up 19 points, 59-40.
“Christy Clark came in and really played well,” Sparks said. “She gave us a big lift and we were able to sit Krystal.”
Clark scored her points on aggressive drives to the basket and free throws. She also stepped up defensively to guard Broad Street’s perimeter gunner Michelin Sparks.
“Coach told me to not let her shoot and to not let her score … I didn’t let her score,” Clark said, then smiled.
Sparks scored a team-high 16 points, including three 3-pointers, but none after Clark was assigned to her.
‘Time to step up’
“I decided it was my time to step up,” Clark said. “Coach says I’ve played too shy.”
New Site struggled with second-chance points and layups in the first half, which frustrated Sparks.
“I told them at halftime that the difference in being up 11 points instead of 20 was the missed three or four shots … shots we’re supposed to make.
“I thought Bree had some looks in the first half and couldn’t knock it down. In the second half she put it on the floor and created more.”
For New Site, Jackson scored 19 points, Carleigh King 13 and Pharr 10.
Broad Street (22-6) will play in Jackson as a No. 2 seed.