By Kedrick Storey
RIPLEY – The Tippah County Tournament boys’ final was a game of runs all the way to the end, but Ripley had the last one that counted.
Trailing 55-51 with less than five minutes remaining, No. 9 Ripley used a 9-2 run to take three-point lead and then held on to defeat No. 10 Blue Mountain 79-76 to claim the boys’ title on Saturday night.
Ripley coach Grant Gardner praised the competitive play of both teams.
“I thought that was one of the best games I have ever been associated with in 15 years of coaching,” said Gardner. “From the beginning to end, one team a spurt, the other team a spurt. It was amazing how both teams wanted that game.”
Cougars catch fire
Ripley led 16-14 after one quarter, but Blue Mountain senior guard Ismael Ruedas caught fire for 16 of his game-high 36 points in the second to give the Cougars a 40-35 lead at the break.
Blue Mountain enjoyed their biggest lead of the game at 45-37 on a basket by Ruedas early in the third quarter, before Ripley began to make a push. Dewaye Cox, who finished with 18 points, banged a 3-pointer to make it 45-41.
Later, Kendel Fisher hit a shot from beyond the arc and Isaiah Howard hit two shots and Malik Person a jumper to tie it at 51.
In the fourth, Canaan Ratliff started the game-deciding run with a 3-point play. Pearson added a jumper and Ratliff scored on back-to-back driving layups make it 60-57 with 3:39 remaining.
Ratliff finished with 13 points. Howard led Ripley (12-4) with 19 points, while Marquellus Boyd added 10.
Jacob Girley had 15 points and Taije Berry 10 for Blue Mountain (12-7).
“It was a great game, a battle to the end and I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” said Blue Mountain coach David Mason. “I told my boys in the locker room that I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
(G) Ripley 68, Pine Grove 40: Zaida Cox scored 18 points to help the No. 6 Lady Tigers win their sixth straight girls’ title. Katelin Miller had 10 for No. 8 Pine Grove.