Patience pays off for Pontotoc

By Blake Long/Special to the Journal

ECRU – The patient offensive play of Pontotoc delivered three-point baskets exactly as it was patented to on Saturday night.
The Lady Warriors hit 11 total and eventually pulled away to a 67-56 victory over Choctaw Central in a battle of state-title contenders at the Robertson’s Sportswear Lady Challenge.
“I thought we did a good job offensively tonight,” said Pontotoc coach Bill Russell. “Our offense is geared around the three. Three’s give you a boost and they give you energy.”
Trailing 19-12 after the opening quarter, Pontotoc connected on six 3-pointers in the second. Marlee Hatcher tied the game at 21 then Kayla Russell gave the Lady Warriors their first lead with 4 minutes, 28 seconds until halftime.
Alex Brown and post-player Lanikki McMillian also hit 3-pointers in the period to help Pontotoc, the Journal’s fourth-ranked team, lead 32-31 at the break.
Six ties and six lead changes followed in the second half. Five straight points by Kristen Dixon put Choctaw Central, a Class 3A school in Philadelphia, ahead 51-49 with 5:41 left in the fourth.
Pontotoc (22-3) then out-scored the Lady Warriors 16-5 to secure a nice win with just over a week before postseason play begins with division tournaments.
Anna Rosenbaum and Russell started the game ending run with three-pointers. McMillian scored four points in the final stretch to finish with 26 along with 11 rebounds and three blocks.
“We’re reaching our peak finally getting close to the end of the season,” said McMillian. “We’re playing every game like it’s the last game of our season.”
Dixon, McMillian’s rival in the post, led Choctaw Central (20-5) with 23 points and 10 boards. Hatcher scored 16 and Russell added 11 for Pontotoc.