After going undefeated in division play, first-year Newton coach Marc Stribling was a little worried about his Lady Tigers.
Those worries were well founded, as the Lady Tigers were upset in the first round of the division tournament by Philadelphia.
But the Lady Tigers have rebounded from that loss and won three straight road games, capping off the week with a tough 40-39 win at Bay Springs on Friday night to qualify for the Final Four of the Class 2A State Tournament at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
“Sometimes when you go undefeated, you need a kick in the butt to wake you up,” Stribling said. “When Philly beat us in the district tournament, it was a kick in the butt. I thought the girls really responded to us and the coaching staff the last two weeks. Sometimes you just need that wakeup call before the playoffs begin.”
Newton improves to 13-5 on the season and heads to the Big House to take on New Site, who is 30-2 on the season. Their only losses are to Tishomingo County (60-51) and Choctaw Central (70-63). Newton and New Site will play on Tuesday in a 9 a.m. contest.
“I don’t know a lot about them but I know from seeing them in the past that they play really good basketball,” Stribling said. “I know they will be disciplined, block out and rebound and do the little things it takes to win. I know it will be a challenge for our girls.”
Newton 40, Bay Springs 39
The Lady Tigers held off a late charge by the Lady Bulldogs as they took a one-point win on Friday night to advance to the Class 2A Final Four.
Newton led 9-4 at the end of the first period and outscored Bay Springs 13-11 in the second to take a 22-15 lead at the half. Each team scored eight points in the third period before Bay Springs made a comeback effort in the fourth period, outscoring Newton 16-10 for the final margin.
“I thought we played really well in the half and were able to build a lead,” Stribling said. “But I knew Bay Springs wasn’t going to lay down and give us the game. They have a lot of pride down there and were playing at home and really got after us in the second half. We didn’t make some of the plays late that we made in the first half. But we kept in there and fought and even when they cut it to one, we kept on fighting and that’s what I was proud of.”
Zia Shields led Newton with 16 points while Kania Arrington had 14 points and Ja’Leah Hickmon added 10 points.
Newton 66, North Forrest 55
The Lady Tigers outscored the Lady Eagles in every period as they took an 11-point win on Wednesday night.
In a tight first half, Newton led 11-9 at the end of the first and 24-21 at the half. Newton started to pull away in the second half as they outscored North Forrest 15-12 in the third to take a 39-33 lead into the fourth. The Lady Tigers hit 17-of-23 free throws in the fourth period as they outscored North Forrest 27-22 to take the win.
Zia Shields had a career night as she pumped in 37 points while Ja’Leah Hickmon had 22 points and Kania Arrington chipped in six points.