NEW ALBANY – The North Pontotoc Lady Vikings defeated the Corinth Lady Warriors 46-28 in the Division 1-4A tournament last Tuesday to clinch a playoff berth. Maddie Guerin finished with a game high 26 points, and Belle Ross scored 11 points for the Lady Vikings.
“Gracie Corley was everywhere tonight, and I thought Maddie and Belle had really good games,” said North Pontotoc head coach Matt Waldrop. “They all played well. It was a good effort and good win.”
Maddie Guerin went to work early and often for the Lady Vikings (10-15). She scored seven straight points to open the game for North and helped them to a 9-7 lead in the first quarter. Guerin added two threes in the second quarter, but Corinth went on an 11-2 run to close out the half and lead 21-19 at halftime.
The Lady Vikings held Corinth to one field goal in the third quarter. Belle Ross scored five straight points to open up the second half and give North a 24-21 lead. Maddie Guerin followed her with nine points to extend the Lady Vikings' lead to 34-23. Belle Ross scored six more points in the fourth quarter, as North Pontotoc finished off the Lady Warriors.
On Thursday the Lady Vikings were overmatched in a 83-29 semifinal loss to the eventual division champion Ripley Lady Tigers, dropping them into Friday evening's consolation game against New Albany.
New Albany 59, North Pontotoc 50
There was not much offense to speak of for either team in the opening quarter, with New Albany holding a slight 8-6 lead. North got baskets from Kaylee Hargett, Maddie Guerin and Belle Ross.
Guerin exploded for 13 points early in the second quarter, burying four 3-pointers and a free throw. Hargett knocked down a free throw to give the Lady Vikings a 20-16 lead. New Albany rattled off 7 consecutive points, taking a 23-20 lead on a jump shot from Ashanti High with 2:08 to play in the half. North's Bindi Seale drove toward the basket and hit a pull-up jumper to cut it to 23-22, but High buried a 3-pointer. Belle Ross answered with a 3-pointer of her own with 10 seconds remaining to cut it to one again at 26-25, but Kelsey Ledbetter was fouled and converted both free throws with 5.8 seconds left to send New Albany into halftime with a narrow 28-25 advantage.
Madison McDonald hit a three to give the Lady Bulldogs a six-point lead early in the third, but a pair of buckets from Guerin trimmed the deficit to 31-29. McDonald hit a shot to extend the New Albany lead, but Haisley Coker drained a jumper and Anna Brooke Sullivan hit a free throw to make it 33-32. High buried a 3-pointer, but Guerin answered with a trey of her own. The teams continued to trade baskets. Ledbetter scored in the post, and Guerin then pump faked to get her defender elevated before hitting a floater. Ledbetter scored again, but once again Guerin responded with a bucket to pull the Lady Vikings to within 40-39 at the end of the third quarter.
High was able to knock down another 3-pointer, followed by runner, in early in the fourth. Sullivan banked in a jumper off the glass for North, but 6 unanswered points by the Lady Bulldogs stretched the lead to 51-41 by the 3:49 mark, a total 11-2 run. The Lady Vikings were able to get the lead down to 7 after a Gracie Corley 3-pointer with 3:37 left and as little as 6 after Kierra Green 3-pointer at the 3:02 mark. North again cut to it 6 after a Sullivan free throw with 1:27 to go, but the early fourth quarter momentum swing had created a hole that saw ultimately too much to overcome.
Guerin had a big offensive game for the Lady Vikings with 26 points. High led New Albany 18 points, with Ledbetter scoring 14 and McDonald 11.
North Pontotoc was the 4-seed out of 1-4A. They were eliminated in the first road of the playoffs in a 59-24 loss to Clarksdale on Monday night.