By David Wheeler
Special to the Journal
BOONEVILLE – Looking ahead to the next step can almost cause a missed step this time of year in high school basketball.
The Division 1-1A No. 1 seeded Pine Grove Lady Panthers gritted their teeth when it counted, holding off the Tupelo Christian Lady Eagles 52-49 in semifinal action.
The victory by the Lady Panthers propels them into the 1-1A championship game today, where they will face Biggersville at 7 p.m. In classes 1A through 4A, teams in division championship games have already earned a home game next week.
“I think we played scared to lose, didn’t come out swinging like we normally do,” Pine Grove head coach Katie Bates said. “We had mental breakdowns,but a lot of that pressure was from TCPS.
Tupelo roared to as much as a 19-5 lead at one point in the first quarter, but Pine Grove held a 38-35 advantage entering the final period. There, TCPS finally edged ahead 46-44 with 2 minutes, 58 seconds to play on a basket by Ainsly Hale and free throws by Claire Golding.
The lead then changed three times, finally in Pine Grove’s favor on a Lexi Elliott shot from the lane with 1:22 left for a 50-49 lead. Elliott and Meagan Hill each made a free throw in the closing seconds, and TCPS missed two tying 3-pointers at the end.
“We finally pulled down rebounds we needed, and held our ground on defense,” Bates said.
Lexi Elliott led Pine Grove with 19, while Golding hit 28 to pace Tupelo.
(B) Biggersville 59, Pine Grove 51: With the game tied at 46-46, the Biggersville Lions held a 13-5 scoring edge over the final 3:46 to pull out the win.
There were three lead changes in the first part of the fourth quarter, with Biggersville taking the lead for good on a Qua Davis layup.
“I just them to be a little more aggressive,” Biggersville assistant Tracy Stafford said. “On offense, I told them to get the ball inside, and whoever got the ball, be ready to distribute it.”
Davis and Devonte Spears each scored 17 for Biggersville, while Jon Lewellen and Will Hudson each scored 10 for Pine Grove.
(G) Biggersville 60, Jumpertown 45: The Lady Lions broke open a close game with an 18-4 fourth quarter.
Alexis Shumpert led Biggersville with 19, and Lily Michael hit 16 for Jumpertown.