By Brandon Speck
FULTON – Sophomore Constance Dunn scored in the first quarter and spent the third making sure Gentry’s Kristy Parker did not.
Kim and Tori Mallory picked up the offensive load as Itawamba AHS claimed the North Mississippi Class 4A championship Thursday with a 62-54 win.
“When I took the job, I took it because I knew the potential,” first-year IAHS coach Devin Hill said. “Our goal is to win it, so we’ve still got a couple more steps.”
Both had already earned a berth in next week’s MHSAA state tournament.
It’s the first appearance for IAHS (27-8) since 2006. The last title came in 1952.
Itawamba will face Raymond on March 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Mississippi Coliseum. Gentry will face defending champ Bay at 1 p.m.
Dunn scored 11 of her 13 points in the first quarter and IAHS took a 29-26 lead into the break.
It was close thanks to Parker, who scored 16 of her 31 points in the first quarter – none in the third quarter.
“We were playing her flat-out,” Hill said. “She started hurting us. We went to a face guard type of deal with Constance. It was effective.”
Kim Mallory scored eight of her team’s 13 in the third. Tori scored 10 in the fourth. Each Mallory had 13 points. Jamyia Hill led the Lady Indians with 17.
Gentry’s Keanna Dawson left with a leg injury in the second quarter.
“It was a big loss, best rebounder on the team,” Gentry coach Charles Williams said. “She wasn’t in to help protect the basket and they got two and three shots.”
Gentry (16-12) scored the first eight points of the second half, but the Lady Indians, who were supposed to be rebuilding this season, scored the next 10, Kim Mallory’s bucket providing a 39-34 lead. Tori Mallory gave Itawamba an 11-point cushion with 3:15 to play.
“I really can’t explain the feeling. It’s been a long time since we’ve made it this far,” Dunn said. “It’s just an amazing feeling.”