FULTON • R'Daztiny Harris was unstoppable last Thursday in the MHSAA Class 1A quarterfinals at her future home, Itawamba Community College.
Harris poured in 38 points against the three-time defending state champions Pine Grove but outside of their star senior, the Lady Rebels had no answer as the Lady Panthers pulled away with a 23-point fourth quarter to win 56-42.
Pine Grove held a slim 30-28 lead in the final moments of the third quarter before freshman Ellie Fryar scooped up an offensive rebound and kicked it back out to Kenzie Miller for a 3-pointer at the buzzer, sending the Lady Panthers into the fourth with a five-point lead and all the momentum.
The Lady Panthers took that momentum and capitalized on it, especially senior Bella Jumper. Jumper hit three 3-pointers in the final period, including two in part of a 10-2 run that gifted Pine Grove an 11-point lead with 4:29 left to seal the win.
"When Jenna Poff fouled out we couldn't switch our defense like we had all night," claimed Hickory Flat head coach Brent Kuhl. "We had to go man and we messed up a few possessions and left Jumper open and she hit those threes in the fourth quarter and that's what beats us. We were right there with them the whole game and then in the fourth quarter we had three or four possessions where we made mistakes and they made us pay."
Harris scored the Lady Rebel's first 38 points of the game before freshman Abby Tatum connected on a 3-pointer with 3:27 left to cut the lead down to six. Jumper's third three of the fourth matched Tatum's as Pine Grove closed the game on a 9-1 run.
"(Harris) came out and got in an offensive rhythm, knocked down a couple of shots, and she was super hard to guard after that," said Pine Grove head coach Katie Bates. "On our end, we executed and got the shots we wanted."
Harris' illustrious high school career comes to an end as she helped guide the Lady Rebels to a 28-5 season and their second-consecutive quarterfinals appearance.
"Just when I thought I had seen everything and I thought she was a certain type of player, she goes and astounds me," said Kuhl of his star senior. "I just watched her play the best game I've ever seen her play and I haven't ever seen anybody put on a performance like that. She absolutely dominated the ball game all the way up until three minutes left. It's hard to see her go because she is the most special player I've ever been around."