ECRU – North Pontotoc played like champions again just in the nick of time. The Vikings captured another tournament title with a 47-46 overtime victory Saturday against Water Valley in the North Pontotoc Invitational tournament, using a bucket by Ethan Tallant and free throws by D.J. Mayfield and Mitch Doom to finally put away the Yalobusha County school. North Pontotoc (7-3, 0-1 in Region 1-4A) won its second straight tournament of the season, taking the Pine Grove Invitational trophy just before Thanksgiving break. A 75-42 win against Vardaman on Thursday put the hosts back in the finals. Overtime Mayfield’s free throw in regulation gave the Vikings a 42-40 lead with 43 seconds remaining, but the Blue Devils tied it again moments later with a basket in the paint by Eric Buckley to send it into an extra frame. Mayfield’s assist to Tallant in the paint put North Pontotoc ahead 44-43 with 2:30 remaining in overtime. Mayfield hit one of two free throws with 47 seconds left and Doom added another with 23 seconds remaining to seal the win. Doom, a sophomore, finished with eight points and a pair of steals. Mayfield also had eight points, and fellow junior Chris Bryant added seven. Water Valley (2-4) managed to stay within five points during the game, but was ultimately unable to find an answer for the size advantage enjoyed by the Vikings. Ethan Tallant Tallant, North Pontotoc’s big man, led all scorers with 16 points. The 6-foot-4.5 senior post player also had seven rebounds, two steals and three blocked shots. “We came out slow, and I got a lot of touches in the second half and I just capitalized,” said Tallant, who was the target of Water Valley’s defensive scheme. “I was getting frustrated, but I fought through it and the team helped me and we got a lot of energy in the second half. “During half time we talked to the guards and told them to relocate whenever they turned their backs to them because they were double teaming and triple teaming us,” Tallant said. “Started doing that, got some kicks, started making some 3’s and they started staying out a little bit.” With the inside freed up, Tallant racked up 14 of his 16 points in the second half. His putback with 38 seconds left in the third quarter gave North Pontotoc a 23-22 lead, and it never trailed again in regulation. “The main thing that gave us trouble was defending in the post,” said Water Valley head coach John Sherman. “They have big Tallant, and he kind of got loose in the second half and had a big second half. “We were trying to back him, and we normally don’t like to do that,” Sherman added. “They were looking for the lob, and we thought we could back him and that didn’t end up being successful for us.” The first half But the Blue Devils were effective in limiting North’s point production in the first two quarters. Water Valley led 9-8 at the end of the first quarter and 16-13 at intermission. “The first half, we didn’t shoot it well and had one more point than we had turnovers,” said North Pontotoc head coach Chris Pettit. “We thought we could exploit E.T. on the inside and that’s what we did in the second half,” Pettit added. Coming up The win was the second straight for the Vikings since losing their division opener on Dec. 1 to Tishomingo County (62-54). A string of three straight division games will take them into Christmas break – Itawamba AHS (Dec. 8), Pontotoc (Dec. 11) and New Albany (Dec. 18).


Jay Tidwell/Progress

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