By D.E. Wheeler
CORINTH - The tension Saturday night at the Alcorn County Tournament finals was just like it was suppose to be - so thick you could cut it with a knife.
The Corinth Warriors and the Kossuth Lady Aggies must have gotten the Ginsu knife set for Christmas.
In, perhaps, the surprise of the night, the Lady Aggies had to struggle to maintain their perfect record on the season before edging the Corinth Lady Warriors 42-39. And the Warriors picked up their intensity in the third quarter to claim their third consecutive county title with a 67-57 against the Biggersville Lions.
"The last two games, we had looked quicker than we had looked all season," said Kossuth coach Alan Wood, who saw his Lady Aggies improve to 15-0 for the season. "But we just haven't gotten any consistency the whole season.
"I thought we hung in good, scrapped and clawed."
Against a determined bunch of Lady Warriors (9-6), the Lady Aggies needed a tough effort for the whole 32 minutes.
The game was tied as late as 39-39 after a three-point play by Corinth's Jayshawnda White with one minute, 39 seconds left to play. The teams then traded turnovers before sophomore Latasha Essary saw an opening an made a very key drive and layup with 25 seconds left.
"I saw that play open up and almost hoped she didn't drive," Wood said. "She's a sophomore, but she made no hesitation when she went to the basket."
Corinth then missed one shot with nine seconds left. Allison Reeder made one free throw with three seconds left, and Corinth bounced a shot off the rim at the buzzer.
"Considering they have a lot of scoring potential, you have to give our girls credit for the defense they played ," Corinth coach Bobby Purvis said. "They really played good, and I'm proud of them."
Neither team led by more than three points the entire contest, with Corinth going up 14-11 after the first quarter, 23-21 at the half, and 30-28 after the third quarter.
Ashley Jones led the Kossuth offense with 25 points, including eight points and two key steals during a four-minute span of the fourth quarter. White paced Corinth with 13.
"She (Jones) turned it up a notch in the fourth quarter, but all the girls have played in big games," Wood said. "But we are still looking for consistency."
The boys contest was just as tough for most of three quarters until the Warriors (13-3) picked up its defense and went on a 13-0 run, taking them from a 39-33 deficit to a 46-39 lead. Three point plays by Marcus Howard and Jim Taylor, along with a 3-pointer by Taylor, keyed that run
"It looked like early on that both teams were feeling each other out," Corinth coach David Robbins said. "I was real disappointed in our shot selection, but midway through the third quarter, I thought we stepped it up a notch defensively.
"That got us some easy baskets."
Biggersville (11-4) got within three points at 54-51 with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter on a Roger Davis fast break layup, but that was as close as the Lions could get the rest of the way.
Marcus Howard led the way for Corinth with 24 points and Lionel Gaines paced Biggersville with 19.