By Gene Phelps
SHANNON – Shannon’s Lady Red Raiders welcomed the challenge of playing Pontotoc’s Lady Warriors in Tuesday’s Division 1-4A battle.
By the time the dust settled in the war between two of Northeast Mississippi’s top-ranked girls basketball teams – No. 2 Pontotoc, No. 4 Shannon – the home team owned the scoreboard with a pulse-pounding 69-67 win.
“The best team won tonight; they outplayed us in every phase,” said Pontotoc coach Bill Russell, whose team lost in last season’s state finals.
“This win is a big plus for our girls,” Shannon coach Warren Jennings said. “They wanted it bad. They worked hard to get it and they deserved it.”
Shannon (12-3, 5-0 division), which led the entire second half, saw Pontotoc (14-3, 2-1) cut its lead to two points on four occasions. The last time was on a 3-pointer by Pontotoc’s Alex Brown at the buzzer.
Breah Mitchell scored 11 of her 15 points in the final 3 minutes, 58 seconds for the Lady Raiders, who seemed to have an answer for every Pontotoc run.
“They answered every call,” Russell said. “Shannon stuck it to us and we didn’t take it very well. A lot of what happen was due to them.”
Pontotoc guard Marlee Hatcher led all scorers with 26 points, 18 coming on six 3-pointers.
Hatcher, whose team trailed 44-37 headed into the fourth quarter, scored 11 points in the opening three minutes to cut Shannon’s lead to 52-50. During that span, she connected on three 3-pointers, and scored on a layup following a steal.
Alexandrea Metcalf, who led the Lady Raiders with 19 points, answered Hatcher’s final 3 with a 3-pointer to push Shannon’s lead back to five points.
Quin Agnew added 16 points for Shannon while Olivia Owen had 15 for Pontotoc.
(B) Shannon 72, Pontotoc 54: Point guard Rocquis Coleman scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the final 3 minutes to lead the Red Raiders (12-4, 4-1).
Pontotoc (10-8, 1-2) closed the gap to seven points on jumper by Anthony Townsend with 3:08 remaining.