By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
ECRU – North Pontotoc’s senior class should take a bow when this season’s over.
The Lady Vikings – led by seniors April Callahan, Arriann Henry, Andrea Lewis, Chelsea Mabry and Brittany Seale – head to Jackson next week for the Class 4A state tournament having posted back-to-back 25-win seasons.
“This is a good group of seniors, who decided that it’s time,” North Pontotoc coach Shane Montgomery said. “Nobody told them they weren’t supposed to win.”
North Pontotoc (25-7) plays the state’s No. 1-ranked team, Bay High, at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The Lady Vikings will be heavy underdogs.
That’s OK, Montgomery says.
“This group loves being the underdog,” he said. “We’re not backing down from a challenge.
“This is what these girls have been shooting for. We’ve got some momentum and we get a chance at the prize.”
North Pontotoc lost 59-49 to defending state champion Pontotoc in the North Mississippi championship game last week. However, they left quite an impression with their county rival.
“All of their kids stepped up and made shots,” Pontotoc coach Bill Russell said. “You can’t leave any of them open.”
Pontotoc needed two late 3-pointers to seal the victory.
Lewis, a 5-foot-10 guard/forward, averages 16.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. Mabry, a 6-3 post player, averages 15.6 points and 12.1 rebounds.
“They make us go,” Montgomery said. “We rely on them a lot. Chelsea controls the middle on defense. Andrea has led us in scoring the last three years. She’s stepped up in the playoffs.”
To reach the North title game, North Pontotoc had to defeat favored Itawamba AHS and Indianola Gentry. The two wins ran Montgomery’s career victory total to 616.
The 30-year coaching veteran won a state championship in 2003 with Ripley. His 2004 Ripley team lost in the state finals.
“I know everbody’s got Bay picked to win,” Montgomery said. “We love being in this position. I know we’re going to represent North Pontotoc to the best of our ability.”