By David Wheeler/NEMS Daily Journal
BOONEVILLE – Last season, the Ripley Lady Tigers won the Class 3A state championship.
The Lady Tigers were trying to get back in a championship frame of mind Wednesday as they began their journey in the 2012 postseason.
Sprinting to the lead in the first half, Ripley looked in championship form with a 76-37 victory over the Alcorn Central Lady Bears in semifinal action of the Division 1-3A Tournament.
“Our defensive pressure was the difference tonight,” Ripley coach Katie Bates said. “We’ve really been talking about that this week.
“That’s where a lot of our success in the past has come, and as long as we can pressure, it puts us in a good position to win.”
Ripley (24-3) sprinted to a 10-0 lead with Jayla Chills scoring a pair of baskets. Then in the second quarter, Ripley put the throttle down by outscoring Central 19-2 to grab a 40-8 halftime lead.
Chills led Ripley in scoring with 18 points. Katie Foster scored 22 for Central.
The Ripley win set up a rematch with No. 1 seed Belmont, which defeated the Lady Tigers by two points on Jan. 31.
(B) Booneville 67, Alcorn Central 43: Also a defending state champion, the Blue Devils (26-3) made their move early to grab control of this semifinal contest.
The Devils began the contest with an 11-0 run with Jake Hall and Keldrick Lesley each bagging two field goals. Kenny Paul Geno added 11 points in the first half, giving Booneville a 40-20 lead at the break.
“Alcorn Central has the ability to make a lot of shots, and I think our pressure bothered them, and sped up their offense,” Booneville coach Michael Smith said. “Intensity-wise and pressure-wise, I think we played like we needed to at times tonight.”
Geno and Lesley each tallied 16 for Booneville, with Trae Bain scoring 10 for Central.
(B) HOLLY SPRINGS 57, RIPLEY 40: Rodney Redmond 22 scored 22 points for the Hawks (17-9), who advance to the championship game against Booneville. Malik Pearson scored 13 for Ripley (20-8).