By Brandon Speck/Monroe Journal
JACKSON – Corinth struggled to find its shots on Friday night and the Warriors are again heading back to Northeast Mississippi without a gold ball.
Amanda Elzy played above the rim in the MHSAA Class 4A championship game and beat Corinth 56-47 at the Mississippi Coliseum.
It was Corinth’s fourth time to lose here since 2003, three of those in the finals. The last of its five titles came in 2002.
“Too many turnovers and we didn’t handle the pressure well,” said Corinth coach Keith Greene. “We knew they were going to press us. We shot the ball better the first time. We didn’t shoot it well today.”
Corinth beat Elzy 74-71 in the North title game at Shannon.
Corinth hit 38.9 percent of its shots Friday, 2 of 9 from behind the arc, all those in the first half.
It went south for the Warriors (29-5) in the second quarter. After a free throw with 19.1 seconds left in the first, the Warriors didn’t score again until the 1:18 mark of the second. By that time they trailed 30-20.
It was an 8 minute, 42 second drought between field goals.
“I thought we settled for too many outside shots early instead of going to the hole,” Greene said. “We got more aggressive as the game went on but it was too late.”
Rahkeem Lehaman ignited the Panther crowd with several dunks, none louder than a halfcourt alley oop from Jalen Jones after Corinth trimmed a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to five on Deione Weeks’ emphatic slam in front of the Corinth student section.
Weeks and Eric Richardson had 15 apiece.
Lahaman and Maurice Dunlap had 15 each for Elzy (26-5). Dunlap ingnited the second quarter and left the game briefly in the third after a hard fall.
“He took over the game,” Elzy coach Gerald Glass said of Dunlap. “He stepped it up and did what he had to do. We started playing better when we started playing defense, started pressuring their guards. That made a difference.”
Corinth finished with 16 turnovers, forcing 14.
Corinth still had life late, as sophomore Desmin Harris connected twice from long range twice in the final 95 seconds.
Dekarius Prayer answered the second make inside before a Corinth turnover. Jones sank a pair of free throws with 19.5 seconds left and Lehaman’s final slam was the dagger.