The defending Class 2A state champions just seemed to take a deep breath, and gutted out the challenge on Saturday, downing the Class 5A Center Hill 56-35 in action at the Booneville Kiawans Classic.
“I knew it was going to be physical coming in, and I told the kids that,” New Site head coach Byron Sparks said. “I can tell a change in our kids after the tough schedule that we’ve had.”
Certainly, New Site’s previous four games prepared them for anything thrown at them by Center Hill (12-5) - athletic 3A Ripley, 6A Gulfport and Ocean Springs, and defending 4A champ Pontotoc on Friday.
The Lady Royals (13-4) were sharp early, with Christy Clark scoring five points in the opening quarter as they moved to a 17-7 lead. But the second quarter was a taste of big-school physical play.
The Lady Mustangs’ press impacted New Site enough, with Kiara Golden scoring two field goals to help her team pull within 24-20 at the half.
“New Site is good at every position,” Center Hill head coach Jonathan Moore said. “We shot seven air balls tonight, we just couldn’t get it to go for us.”
New Site kept its poise, and played a smart third quarter that gave them some breathing room. Addison Lucas bagged two 3-pointers late in the period, totaling 10 for the eight minutes, increasing the New Site lead to 38-24.
Lucas hit another 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter, and Clark basically sealed the victory with three hard-working field goals that pushed the Lady Royals’ advantage up to 47-30.
“The kids did a good job making Center Hill play at our pace,” Sparks said. “I thought they would be hard to defend it we allowed them to get to the rim, but we did a good job making them take jumpers.”
Clark paced the New Site offense with 18 points, and Golden scored 14 for Center Hill.