Russell-mania: Senior’s 27 points spearheads Warriors’ rout

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Pontotoc's Kayla Russel battles for a ball against two H.W. Byers defenders on Thursday. The senior found herself with more and more defenders on her as she finished the night with 27 points.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Pontotoc’s Kayla Russel battles for a ball against two H.W. Byers defenders on Thursday. The senior found herself with more and more defenders on her as she finished the night with 27 points.

By Gene Phelps

Daily Journal

INGOMAR – The nets at Ingomar High School gym may still be smoking today.

Pontotoc’s Lady Warriors connected on a state-record 17 3-pointers Thursday to defeat last year’s Class 1A state champion, H.W. Byers, 78-48 in the Ingomar Tournament.

“That’s what we do,” said senior guard Kayla Russell, who connected on a team-high seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points. “Everybody was on tonight.”

Pontotoc (6-0) fell behind 5-0 in the early moments then scored 17 unanswered points to exit the first quarter with a 12-point lead. Russell and Olivia Owen hit two 3-pointers in the run.

Russell sank three more treys in the second quarter to help the Lady Warriors build a 39-20 halftime lead.

Third quarter

Pontotoc sank seven 3-pointers – Russell two, Marlee Hatcher two, E.C. Stegall two and Owen one – for all of its points in the third quarter to charge ahead 60-35.

“The lights went out in the third,” H.W. Byers coach Jason Thompson said. “I had a player running at them. It’s not drawn up for a team to make 3s like that. They had a great night.”

Added Thompson, “Their pressure on defense allowed them to do that.”

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Pontotoc's Marlee Hatcher scored 19 points, including two three-pointers in a third quarter rally that turned the game into a rout.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Pontotoc’s Marlee Hatcher scored 19 points, including two three-pointers in a third quarter rally that turned the game into a rout.

Pontotoc coach Bill Russell was pleased with his team’s offensive and defensive performance.

“I thought we shot it well,” he said, then smiled. “We executed what we do. The kids were prepared and carried out the game plan.”

Hatcher scored 19 points and connected on four 3-pointers for the Lady Warriors. Point guard Alex Brown scored 15 and Owen added 11.

Gulledge scored 13 points and Jequira Thompson 10 for H.W. Byers (2-2).

Gulledge spent most of her evening trying to shake the man defensive play of Kayla Russell and Kayla Rush.

“We worked on our press for two days in practice,” Kayla Russell said. “When we started getting the lead, they got frustrated.”

The national record for 3-pointers in a game is 34 by Guy-Perkins, Ark., in 1999. Pontotoc’s 17 is tied for sixth place nationally with six other teams.

gene.phelps@journalinc.com