SPRINGVILLE • South Pontotoc’s offensive woes became its downfall Monday night.
The Lady Cougars bowed out in the first round of the MHSAA Class 4A playoffs, losing to Northeast Lauderdale, 42-30. They shot just 10 of 35 (28.6%) from the field and 8 of 18 (44.4%) from the free throw line.
South Pontotoc (20-11) kept turning it over in the first half as Northeast Lauderdale (17-12) applied constant full-court pressure. The Lady Cougars had just 10 field goal attempts at halftime.
“We handled the pressure, got it up, and then turned it over, or just could not just get in the offense,” South coach Bill Russell said. “I don’t know if the moment got us or what.”
Seizing the moment early was Kennedi Jimison. The junior guard made three 3-pointers in the first half as the Lady Trojans raced out to a 13-2 lead after one quarter and a 26-10 lead after two.
“We stood and let (Jimison) get three good looks from 3,” Russell said. “We knew coming in she was their best shooter, and I don’t know how you lose the other team’s best player.”
Jimison finished with 12 points, six rebounds and three steals. Point guard Molly Moore had 10 points.
Northeast Lauderdale led by as much as 16 points in the third quarter, but South Pontotoc knocked it down to 10 in the fourth.
“We had it cut and just couldn’t get that key shot to fall for us. We’ve had offensive struggles all year,” Russell said.
Northeast Lauderdale coach Lewis Lightsey said South Pontotoc is similar to Leake Central, which the Lady Trojans beat on Friday in the Division 4-4A consolation game.
“So we went with the same game plan we used Friday, try to bother them with the pressure,” Lightsey said.
Rebekah Pilcher led South Pontotoc with 14 points, while Maisy Canerdy had 11 points and five rebounds.
Northeast Lauderdale shot 13 of 40 (32.5%) from the field.
Turning Point: Northeast Lauderdale ran out to a 13-0 lead, with South Pontotoc not scoring its first points until 49 seconds left in the first quarter.
Point Maker: Jimison made 3 of 5 from 3-point range and 3 of 5 from the free throw line.
Talking Point: “It was tough. That’s why we knew we had to jump out early on it.” – Jimison, on defending South Pontotoc