By Kedrick Storey
RIPLEY – It’s been less than two weeks since Ripley leading receiver Isaiah Howard walked off a football field, but he’s quickly become a playmaker on the basketball floor.
Tuesday night, the junior scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help the Tigers take a 87-75 win over Blue Mountain.
Howard led four players in double figures. Freshman Dewayne Cox added 15 points, Malik Pearson 12, and Kendel Fisher 10 as Ripley improved to 4-0.
Howard credits his efforts to get in the gym as soon as possible after the end of football season.
“It’s just hard work. It pays off. I came down here the day after the Noxubee County game and just started putting in work,” said Howard, who added five steals and four assists.
Coast to coast
He scored 15 in the second half, including a corner 3-pointer to end the third period that put Ripley ahead 65-52.
His rebound and coast-to-coast running layup with less then three minutes to play put Ripley ahead 79-67. It followed back-to-back 3-pointers by Fisher and Pearson in an 8-0 run. The spurt halted Blue Mountain’s 12-4 run to start the fourth that made it 69-64.
“I thought he did as good job defensively tonight on the boards as he did offensively,” said Ripley coach Grant Gardner. “He controlled the whole basketball game.”
Blue Mountain (3-1)got a game-high 27 points from Ishmael Ruedas. Fellow guard Jacob Girley missed virtually two quarters with foul trouble and added 14 points. Coach David Mason said the absence of half of his scoring duo was an issue.
“If you play him they are going to go at him and he gets that third or fourth foul quicker, and by not playing him they were able to extend to a 10-12 point lead and maintain it,” said Mason. “I tired to buy time with my bench, but we’re not very deep to begin with. We need him on the floor.”
Ray Young added 15 points and Tajie Berry 11 for Blue Mountain.