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SP Lady Tigers basketball

Lady Tigers have little trouble with Independence

By Brad Greer

There are a number of ways one can spend their Christmas holidays and for some playing basketball at 10 a.m. is not one of them.

But  the South Panola girls basketball team traded in fuzzy slippers for sneakers to tip off the Northwest Mississippi Expo tournament Thursday morning at Senatobia High School.

The Lady Tigers shook off the cobwebs early in the first quarter in route to a 56-39 win over Independence to kick off the three-day 16-team field.

“I think we were half sleep or walking in our sleep there in the first half. It wasn’t until the third quarter is when we finally started getting our offense in gear,” said Tiger head coach Ralph Stallings.

Stalisha Draper gave the Lady Tigers (11-2) an early 8-7  lead on a jumper with 1:35 left in the opening period.

With the score 20-17 at halftime, South Panola began to pull away in the second half. The Tigers moved the ball around on offense to soften up the Wildcats 2-3 zone defense. Essie Thomas got an assist from Skylar Barnes for a basket to go up 24-21 early in the third period. The lead quickly grew to 30-21 on back-to-back three pointers by Draper.

Senior playmaker Sabrina Townsend, who was held to two points in the first half, drained a trey at the 2:38 mark to give South Panola a 33-21 lead it would never relinquish. Townsend and Thomas each finished with 10 points.

“In the second half, we just moved the ball around and waited for their zone to collapse and we got some good shots from the outside. All we had to do was knock it down,” said Stallings.

The Tigers outscored Indy 20-8 in the third quarter and led 40-25 while leading by 20 points early in the fourth period. Draper led South Panola with 15 points while junior Vetorra Cole added 14 second-half points. Monteith Brewer added five points and Barnes hit a pair of free throws for two points.

Tomeka Loveberry paced the Wildcats with 11 points followed by Syterika Welch with 10.

This win set up a match with H.W. Byers Friday afternoon. The winner of that game will play will play at 7 p.m. Saturday. The loser will play at 4 p.m. Saturday.