By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
The girls teams from New Albany, Lafayette, Belmont, Ripley, Myrtle and H.W. Byers have already punched tickets to play in the upcoming MHSAA state basketball tournament.
Tonight, these six girls teams will play for a North Mississippi championship. All three games are scheduled for 7:30 tipoffs.
In Class 4A, the state’s top-ranked team, New Albany, risks its 30-0 record when it hosts Lafayette at Memorial Gym.
In Class 3A, Belmont hosts Ripley in the title game.
In Class 1A, Myrtle plays last year’s 2A state champion, H.W. Byers, at Wheeler.
All six teams are already assured of state tourney berths.
In all, seven girls teams and six boys teams from the Journal’s circulation area have qualified for the state tournament, which tips off Friday with 1A and 2A play at the Mississippi Coliseum.
Lafayette’s lone loss in 30 games was against New Albany, 66-46, on Dec. 28 in Pontotoc’s Battle of the Best tournament.
In that game, New Albany freshman Jazmine Spears had 24 points and 15 rebounds.
Lady Bulldogs coach John Stroud is proud of his team’s accomplishments this season.
“That says something about these girls: to go through a season, with the competition and pressure on a 16-year-old kid, to win 30 straight games,” he said.
For Ripley’s girls, it’s a fourth shot against once-beaten 29-1 Belmont.
“We’re excited about playing them again,” Lady Tigers coach Katie Bates said. “Two of our three battles went down to the wire, but we haven’t finished. That’s our goal.”
New Site’s girls defeated Broad Street to win the 2A North title on Saturday.
In boys play, Myrtle (1A), Baldwyn (2A), Holly Springs (3A), Pontotoc (4A) and Starkville (6A) will be No. 1 seeds while Ingomar (1A) will attend as a No. 2 seed.
Ingomar coach Norris Ashley, whose 41-year career record – 39 with the Falcons – is 1,660-829, has hinted that he might retire after the season.