SP Lady Tiger basketball
By Myra Bean
The South Panola Lady Tiger basketball team made it to the second round of the North State Tournament with a 64-42 win over the Horn Lake Lady Eagles Monday night before an enthusiastic crowd.
The Lady Tigers will take on Greenville-Weston in the late game at 7:30 tonight at Tupelo High School, host school of the tournament. The game will follow the Tupelo/Murrah game at 6 p.m.
Lady Tiger head coach Ralph Stallings likes the matchup going into tonight’s game. He said South Panola will probably have a size advantage over Greenville, according to scouting reports he has received.
“If our post players have a good night, we should have the advantage inside,” Stallings said.
Greenville is mainly a guard team and shoots from the perimeter, according to Stallings.
South Panola post players sophomore Chasity Kearney and junior Montieth Brewer both posted double-double games. Kearney had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Brewer posted 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Sabrina Townsend led all scorers with 32 points and four assists, shooting 68 percent from the floor.
Two other Lady Tigers shot well from the floor. Stalisha Draper came off the bench when Vetorra Cole went out with a twisted ankle late in the fourth quarter and shot 67 percent from the floor. She scored five points, including a three, and had three steals in the short three minutes she played.
Brewer shot 63 percent from the floor.
“It’s very unusual to have three people shooting over 60 percent,” Stalling said.
South Panola and Horn Lake are former district foes and parted ways after realignment last year. The two teams met in the Northwest Mississippi Basketball Expo in Senatobia over the Christmas holidays and Horn Lake won that contest hands down.
“I believe Horn Lake was judging us on that game,” Stallings said. “But we are whole different team now.”
This win gave the Lady Tigers their 10th straight win in which the defense played a big part.
“When people see Chasity and Montieth in the middle, they have to alter their shot,” Stallings said. “Chasity has great hands, like they have stick ‘em on there. She will be an outstanding player if she keeps working. There are no limits to what she can accomplish.”
Stallings praised Cole’s attitude after she was injured. She tried to return to the court after her ankle was taped but could not run. Draper finished the game. Cole had three points and five assists when she left the game. Her main contribution on the floor is her ability to hustle and be near the ball on the pressure defense.
Essie Thomas rounded out the scoring with three points, six rebounds and six assists.
Both teams were slow getting shots to fall in the beginning. Horn Lake got on the boards first with a three by Sammi Canizaro.
South Panola tied the score at three on a Townsend field goal and Cole free throw with 5:10 on the clock. The Lady Tigers picked up the pace and held Horn Lake for the 12-7 first quarter lead.
Townsend, who had hit a three in the first quarter, was unchallenged as she sank one in the second quarter with 6:30 left in the half. South Panola built up a 10-point lead, 21-11, on a Kearney field goal with 5:45 left.
The Lady Tigers did not score after the 3:02 mark while Horn Lake pulled within seven, 25-18, at the half.
Horn Lake still had a ray of hope going into the fourth quarter only down by 11, 43-32. But as the game went on, the Lady Tigers turned up the heat and pulled away with no regrets.
Even when the Lady Tigers were leading by 17, Stallings showed his displeasure over mistakes. After the game, he answered when he lets up on and relaxes when the team has that big of a lead.
“Tonight when my head hits my pillow, I will relax,” he said. “I am passionate about this game. I love every part of it. I have been involved in basketball over 30 years and I am as passionate about it now as I was then.”
The winner of this game will face the winner of the Tupelo/Murray game for the championship tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. The losers will play in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
The top three teams will advance to the state tournament beginning next Thursday. The first place team has a first round bye and will not play until March 6.