PONTOTOC- Pontotoc (12-6) had to battle tooth and nail to pick up a Division 2-4A victory against Itawamba AHS (3-16) at home on Friday.
The Warriors led most of the contest but could not put a scrappy Indian team away, as Itawamba AHS grabbed the lead in the final quarter before PHS ultimately pulled away for a close 60-54 win. The victory improved the Warriors to 4-0 in division play.
Pontotoc held a slight 12-10 lead after one quarter. Rock Robinson hit one of two free throws to start the second. Itawamba AHS's Deion Shells hit two free throws, and a subsequent Indian basket pulled them ahead 13-12. Robinson got back to the foul line and made both shots to retake the lead for the Warriors at 15-14. Caleb Hobson then posted up and connected with a bank shot to make it 17-14. Pontotoc would get a basket from Manoj Nickson, a 3-point play from Robinson, and two free throws from Tres Vaughn over the remainder of the quarter to lead 24-20 at the half.
The Warriors led as many as five in the third, but the Indians made baskets to kept it tight. Caden Prestage's drive and short hook shot cut the Itawamba AHS deficit to 33-32 with 2:05 to play in the quarter. Pontotoc answered when Robinson drove to the rim and laid it in, drawing a foul and converting the old fashioned three at the line. After another Indian bucket, Joe Haze Austin knocked down a runner and Gavin Brinker converted a 3-point play of his own for a 41-34 advantage at the 3.7 second mark. Itawamba made a big play to end the quarter when Shells buried an extremely long 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 41-37.
Itawamba AHS tied the game at 45 with 4:53 remaining before Austin made a free throw to put Pontotoc ahead 46-45. The Indians' Arvesta Troupe tied it back up with a free throw, and Shells grabbed a steal and drew a foul, making both shots to give Itawamba AHS a 48-46 lead. Two more free throws from Troupe had the Indians holding a 50-47 advantage with 3:53 left, but things swung Pontotoc's way from there. Itawamba AHS would not score another point until less than a minute to play.
Robinson hit two free throws after a technical foul call on Itawamba AHS. On the resulting possession, Hobson drove for a layup that reclaimed the lead, 51-50, for Pontotoc. Robinson then scored on a reverse layup with 2:46 to play, and ultimately PHS pulled ahead 57-50 after another Hobson basket at the 1:04 mark, giving them the separation needed to hold on for the win. Itawamba AHS would not get back within five. It was an intense game down the stretch, with multiple technical fouls, an Itawamba AHS ejection, and a couple of Itawamba AHS fans escorted from the gym due to aggressive behavior toward the officials.
Robinson finished with 20 points for Pontotoc, shooting 6-10 from the field and 8-10 from the foul line. He also recorded four rebounds, 2 block shots, one assist and one steal. Hobson had 13 points, 3 blocked shots, 2 assists and 2 steals.
In other action Pontotoc won 64-44 at Shannon last Tuesday.