By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
WATER VALLEY – After a slow first half, Mooreville’s experience eventually got the better of a young Nettleton team.
The Troopers defeated their Lee County rival 56-39 to set up a rematch with Aberdeen in the Division 2-3A Tournament championship game tonight at 8:30.
Javon Berry signaled the end of the Tigers’ threat less than two minutes into the third quarter when he beat all defenders down the floor for a rim-rattling, two-handed slam dunk.
“I thought he was going to go over the backboard,” said Mooreville coach Jeff Tally. “I think that kind of pushed us over where we kind of felt confident.”
Put backs by Devon Bartlett and Berry put Mooreville ahead 40-32 after the third. The Troopers used a 9-0 run in the fourth to pull away.
Mooreville, No. 2 in the Journal rankings, won without guard Austin Timms scoring a point. He sat most of the second half to rest his knees, which caused him some trouble earlier in the season, according to Tally.
Brandon Moore’s 15 points led the Troopers (26-3) while Bartlett scored 10.
shumpert sparks run
The first of four 3-pointers by Alex Shumpert triggered an 11-3 run by Nettleton (7-21) to close the first quarter. The sophomore recorded a game-high 16 points.
Moore scored eight second-quarter points to help Mooreville edge ahead 23-17 at the break after the teams exchanged the lead three times in the period.
“We still made some mistakes because we’re playing ninth and tenth graders,” Nettleton coach Derrick Sharp said. “We’re making strides but we have to get better on doing things the right way.”
(G) South Pontotoc 63, Nettleton 39: CC Costilow scored 13 of her 16 points in the first quarter to help the Lady Cougars (20-10) build a comfortable lead.
Maddison Crudup led South Pontotoc, which plays Mooreville for the 2-3A title today, with 21 points. Meredith Lee and Jayla Jones had nine points apiece for Nettleton (13-12).