By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Norris Ashley’s retirement party has been put on hold.
The Ingomar coach, who is expected to retire after 41 seasons on the sideline, has at least one more game remaining thanks to his Falcons’ 72-60 victory Thursday against McAdams in the MHSAA Class 1A state championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Ashley’s state’s-best 1,664th win gave him his ninth state title at the Union County high school and his fifth boys gold ball.
“Looking at it the last few weeks, this is one trip I won’t forget,” an excited Ashley, 62, said. “These young men did more than I asked for. This turned into one of the best Ingomar teams ever, teamwork-wise.”
Ingomar (30-6), which will play the 2A state champion next Thursday in the Grand Slam here, used that teamwork to work over the favored Bulldogs (23-7), who eliminated Ashley’s son, Jonathan, and his Myrtle Hawks in the semifinals.
Zach Carnell, the Falcons’ 6-foot-7 senior center, scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to dominate the paint.
Senior guards Matt Purvis, who scored 20 points, and Clay Kidd, who connected for 16, including three 3-pointers and 13 points coming in the first half, made it easier for Carnell.
“Clay (Kidd) hitting those 3s in the first half opened things up,” Ashley said. “McAdams had to spread their zone defense out more. That set their strategy back.”
Ingomar took a 29-23 halftime lead, scoring its final three field goals on a 3-pointer by Tyler Jarvis, a layup by Purvis and a 15-foot jumper by Kidd.
The Falcons smoked the Bulldogs with a 9-2 run in the first 31⁄2 minutes of the third quarter to race to a 38-25 lead. Purvis had one of his three 3-pointers in the run, which Carnell capped with a layup.
“We usually have problems starting the second half,” Purvis said. “We got lucky, we stayed hot and never let them catch up.”
McAdams was led in scoring by its big gunner, guard Patrick Lewis, who connected for 21 points and four 3-pointers. John Allen, the point guard, added 14.
Not ‘enough shots’
Lewis hit three of his 3-pointers in the third and early fourth quarter to keep the Bulldogs within striking distance.
“We closed the gap, but we couldn’t get enough shots,” McAdams coach Joe Garrett said.
Ingomar couldn’t breathe easy until the 53-second mark when Kidd, whose father Barry played on Ashley’s first boys state championship team in 1978, scored on a layup to give the Falcons a 66-54 lead.
Kidd said the team wanted to win this state championship for Ashley.
“This is awesome,” he said. “We’re hearing he’s 90 percent sure he’s retiring. We knew that in case he does, this would be important to him.
“For me, it’s great. This extends my playing time.”
It also delays any thoughts of retirement by Ashley for at least another week.
“I’m going to pull a Brett Favre and dodge that issue,” the coach said, then smiled. “I’ll look at it in a few weeks.”