By NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – New Site’s fourth consecutive trip to the Big House proved to be the best – a 56-44 win Thursday over Walnut in the 2A state championship game.
“We’ve been down here chasing that thing for four years and we finally caught it,” Lady Royals coach Byron Sparks said. “We’re excited.”
He also cited past New Site teams for their contribution.
“We’ve had a great group of kids who’ve come through here the last four years that I felt like deserved it, too, but just couldn’t get it,” he said. “We share this with them. They got us to this point … got our program going.
Walnut senior guard Presley Pulse nearly missed the second half of her final high school game after she collided with teammate Sabrina Colom with under a minute to play in the first half.
Pulse ran into Colom after scoring on a layup and ended up losing a tooth. She played the second half with a mouth piece and finished with nine points.
Two years ago, the same two players collided on a similar play in practice. A root canal followed that incident and another is sure to follow this one.
“This time it was a little worse, but I never thought about not playing in the second half,” Pulse said.
TWO FOR PEARSON
New Site’s Morgan Pearson is the lone two-time state champion on the Lady Royals’ roster. She won her first gold ball as a member of Belmont’s 2010 team.
“This one feels great,” she said. “It feels the best because it’s my senior year.”
Pearson was one of Belmont’s top reserves that season, but transferred to New Site last year.
She said earlier this week that she wasn’t leaving Jackson without the gold ball.
“She doesn’t have to stay in Jackson now,” a relative said postgame.
HUNGER WINS OUT
Belmont coach Chris Higginbottom talked Thursday night about the “three Hs” his team experienced following its 42-39 loss to Ripley in the North state championship game.
“We were humbled,” he said, following the Lady Cardinals’ 39-38 win in the rematch against the Lady Tigers in the 3A state championship game. “We had won 25 straight and had gotten complacent.
“We were hurt. I saw the hurt in their eyes. I saw hunger. They wanted to win this game. They did what it took to win at the end.”
Belmont rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take the gold ball.
Of Baldwyn’s starters against S.V. Marshall Thursday, four of the five – Dee Gates, Duke Upshaw, Tevin Lindsey and Ian Burress – played all 32 minutes in the 43-37 loss.
Despite Marshall’s height advantage, the Tigers out-rebounded Baldwyn only 35-28. Of the eight Tigers with playing time, six stood at least 6-foot-2. Baldwyn doesn’t have a player at 6-foot.
There will be a “Welcome Home” celebration at 5:30 p.m. today for the Class 2A state champion New Site Lady Royals at the school gym.