North Pontotoc-Itawamba AHS highlights girls openers

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

Shane Montgomery doesn’t need to be reminded of North Pontotoc’s first meeting this season against Itawamba AHS.
The Lady Vikings suffered a 64-41 loss, their first of the young season, Nov. 27, in Fulton.
“We got our tails handed to us,” Montgomery said. “They got the job done, that’s the bottom line. Hopefully, we can play with them this time.”
Montgomery, who has 614 career victories, will find out at 7 p.m. today when North Pontotoc plays IAHS in the quarterfinals of the MHSAA Class 4A North Mississippi tournament at Pontotoc High School.
The Lady Vikings (23-6) are coming off a first-round win on Monday against Cleveland, 66-59. The Lady Indians (19-9) defeated Leake Central in their North opener.
“Our girls know that anybody can beat anybody now,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got to be able to match Itawamba’s intensity.”
Counting on quickness
IAHS coach Amanda Morrow, despite losing two key players during the season, knows she will have a more athletic, quicker lineup on the floor.
However … “North Pontotoc will definitely outsize us,” she said. “The playoffs are a different season, anything can happen. We’ve got to play hard and play our best.”
North Pontotoc’s lineup features 6-foot-3 post player Chelsea Mabry, who got in foul trouble and scored only four points in the November loss.
IAHS outrebounded the Lady Vikings, especially on the offensive boards, with Mabry on the bench. In that game, Lady Indians Quay Dunn and Kim Mallory combined for 15 offensive rebounds.
“Keeping Chelsey in is crucial for us,” Montgomery said. “They are very athletic. We have to keep them off the boards and limit our turnovers.”
Morrow has stressed to her team that their earlier 23-point win means nothing now.
“Everybody steps up this time of year,” she said. “A lot of things change over the course of a season. They have for us and the girls have adjusted.”
In today’s other games at PHS, defending state champion Pontotoc plays Lafayette at 4 p.m., Shannon plays Greenwood at 5:30 and Corinth meets Gentry in the late game.
gene.phelps@journalinc.com