ITTA BENA • DeeDee Shephard and Samya Brooks gave the Pontotoc girls a late lead, and the Lady Warriors held on for dear life.

Shephard and Brooks combined for 38 points as No. 2-ranked Pontotoc beat Choctaw Central 70-61 on Friday night in the quarterfinals of the MHSAA Class 4A basketball state tournament held at Mississippi Valley State University.

Pontotoc (30-3) advances to play Moss Point in the 4A semifinals held at the Mississippi Coliseum on Monday at 5:30 p.m.

“I told them before the game, whoever wanted it more and whoever had more heart was going to win the game,” Pontotoc coach Kyle Heard said. “We dug down and we got it done.”

The teams went back-and-forth in the first half, and were tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter and 33-33 at halftime. Shephard got into early could trouble and sat most of the half, so Brooks carried the weight.

She scored 15 in the half.

“When Samya wants to tote the load, she can tote the load,” Heard said. “She didn’t get to take much of a break tonight and played huge minutes.”

To open up the third quarter, Shephard entered back in and hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Pontotoc up six, then the Lady Warriors pushed that lead to 56-44 at the end of the third quarter.

Choctaw Central (28-5) went on a 11-2 run to cut the lead to thee points in the last minute of the game, but Angela Middleton had a layup and free throw and Shephard hit three free throws in the last 30 seconds to secure the win.

dalton.middleton@journalinc.com

Twitter: @DLMiddleton8

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