- Defend the Lady Bulldogs’ strong inside game of Jazmine Spears and Micha Washington.
- Defend their outside shooting.
“That’s easier said than done,” North Pontotoc guard Hana Tate said, then smiled moments after her team’s 54-31 loss to New Albany. “We were pumped up. We were ready to get out there on the floor and give it everything we had.”
Spears scored a game-high 17 points, Washington added 14, and guard Nyambi Penson sank four 3-pointers and added 14 points for the unbeaten (27-0) Lady Bulldogs in the game at Itawamba Community College’s Davis Event Center.
Spears and Washington scored 13 of New Albany’s 17 first-quarter points and helped it build an early 15-0 lead.
“They’re the No. 1 team in the state for a reason,” North Pontotoc coach Shane Montgomery said. “They’ve got the two girls inside and 44 (Penson) hitting from the outside like she did. ...
“My girls played hard this week. I’m proud of them.”
North Pontotoc (18-11) earned a No. 2 seed in next week’s North Mississippi tournament with its Thursday win, 40-39, against Pontotoc.
Andrea Lewis was the lone Lady Viking to score in double figures with 10.
“I thought our defense was the difference in the this game,” said New Albany coach John Stroud, who noted that the Vikings were held to 14 second-half points by his team’s half-court defense. “We guarded them and tried to contest every play.”
All eight teams advanced to next week’s North state tournament.
The winner and runner-up host games Monday (girls) and Tuesday (boys); the consolation winner and runner-up travel for first-round games.
(B) New Albany 65, Pontotoc 48
The Bulldogs made it a sweep with their 20th win of the season.
New Albany (20-8), which was led by Devante Berry with 17 points and Tadarious Coburn with 16, jumped out to a 20-8 lead in the first period and never looked back.
“We have to get out and defend; that’s our No. 1 goal every night,” Bulldogs coach Brad Gray said. “We want to create some transition offense out of our defense.”
Josh Green scored 21 points to pace Pontotoc.
(G) Itawamba AHS 62, Pontotoc 50
Laken McKnatt connected on five 3-pointers, including three straight in the second period, and scored 30 points to lead the Lady Indians.
“I might have been on tonight, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of my team,” said McKnatt, a junior. “Coming off our loss (to New Albany) last night, we really wanted to beat Pontotoc.”
Pontotoc, which came in with a 21-4 record, was plagued in the second half with turnovers, missed layups and missed second-chance opportunities.
Rhandi Ball led the Lady Warriors with 19 points.
(B) Tishomingo Co. 56, Shannon 44
Jake Walker scored 16 points as Tish County outscored the Red Raiders 22-10 in the third period to break open a close game.
Lakee Westbrooke scored 22 to lead Shannon.