Ripley girls win Tippah County tourney

FALKNER—If President-elect Barack Obama is still in the market for a Secretary of Defense, he may want to think about giving a call to Lady Tiger Head Coach Katie Walker. Saturday night, Walker had her Lady Tigers (12-1) defending the basket much like the military protects the gold at Fort Knox, as they rolled past defending champion Pine Grove 57-31 in the varsity girls’ final of the Tippah County Tournament. “We knew that Pine Grove is a really good basketball team,” said Walker. “They shoot the ball well, they can score well and they’ve got some great offensive players, so we wanted to contest every shot, and I felt we did a really good job on defense, a really good job at guarding them.” Over half of Pine Grove’s points came from leading scorer Amber Johnson. Johnson scored 18 points, but fellow scoring leaders Candace Davis and Alecia Bellew had a quiet night. Davis chipped in with 8, but Bellew was held scoreless. Lady Panther Coach Cliff Orman put the scoring night in perspective, lamenting that their third-leading scorer played less than three minutes and scored two points. “We didn’t shoot the ball well, but I give credit to Ripley and their defense,” said Orman. “Ripley is very very talented. They put pressure on you at both ends of the floor, offensively and defensively. “Offensively, they’re quick, they drive to the basket well, and they share the ball. Defensively, just to get the ball in bounds, you have to work. You have to work to get a good shot and they did a good job of contesting everything we did.” Pine Grove had only four players in the scoring column while Ripley had 10. Meisha Strong led the Lady Tigers with 10 points followed by Rebecca Ruckes’ 9. Said Strong: “This is special to me because it’s my senior year so this win really means a lot. We did what we had to do to win, the whole team and not just one person.” In the second quarter, Ripley began to take complete control after Jill Harris and Trina Simpson scored back-to-back three-pointers giving Ripley a double digit lead, 16-6. The Lady Tigers finished the quarter with a 19-10 run for a commanding 35-16 halftime lead. The two teams have met in the championship game for three consecutive seasons, with Pine Grove taking the title in 2007 and 2008.

Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentnel