Pontotoc’s coach was correct.
The top-ranked Lady Tigers pulled down 16 offensive rebounds, 11 in the first half, on their way to a 65-42 victory against the defending state champion Lady Warriors in the MHSAA Class 4A state tournament championship game at the Mississippi Coliseum.
“If we could have kept them off the boards and not given them second shots ... that was the difference in the game,” Russell said. “Our first-shot defense was good. We just couldn’t rebound with them.”
Bay High – with three 5-10s, two 5-11s and two 6-footers – scored 22 points off the 11 offensive rebounds in the first half to take a 32-23 halftime lead.
Pontotoc (31-4) saw five players connect on 3-pointers, four in the first quarter, in the first half. The hot-shooting Lady Warriors forced Bay from a matchup zone to a man defensive scheme.
“We had to go man in the second quarter to shut them down,” Bay coach Debbie Triplett said. “We just couldn’t cover the way they spread the floor.”
The Lady Tigers (36-0) opened up a 17-point lead in the third quarter, 50-33. Terrica Williams, who led Bay with a game-high 18 points, scored eight in the period.
“We had a collapse in the third quarter and let them stretch the lead to 17. I knew were in trouble then,” Russell said.
all in the family
The coach was pleased with the play of his daughter, Kayla, who drew the assignment of guarding Bay’s 5-11 guard Christa Reed man-to-man.
Reed scored 17 points, but only had three field goals, one a 3-pointer after the game was decided.
“She’s a good player, very quick,” Kayla Russell said. “I had to block her out, but I’m used to playing against the best player on the other team.”
LaNikki McMillian and Anna Rosenbaum scored nine points apiece to pace the Lady Warriors. Marlee Hatcher added eight and Russell seven.
“We don’t have anything to be ashamed of,” Bill Russell said. “I thought we played (Bay) toe-to-toe for a good part of the game.”