• 68°

Lawrence Co. girls advance

MONTICELLO – The Lawrence County Lady Cougars defeated Quitman66-51, in the opening game of a rousing night of action at thegirls’ South Mississippi 4A Basketball Tournament. Junior standoutTiaria Griffin scored 30 points, spurring a second-half comebackthat saw the Lady Cougars overcome a 10-point deficit.

Quitman entered Thursday’s game with a record of 27-2, and on a10-game winning streak. When the Lady Panthers went on a 17-2 runat the end of the first half, to grab a 28-20 halftime lead, itlooked as though the winning streak would continue. In the secondhalf, however, the host Lady Cougars outscored Quitman 46-23, toroll into the semifinals.

“”We really didn’t play that poorly in the first half,” saidsixth-year Lady Cougar coach Vicki Rutland, “but that second halfis about the best we can do. To dominate a half like that, againstwhat was probably the hottest 4A team in the state, is justunbelievable. I’m so proud of that effort.”

Tiaria Griffin hit 14 straight free throws, 9 of them in the fourthquarter, to lead all scorers. It was her sister, Tyra, that scoredsome of the biggest baskets of the game. With the Lady Cougarsfacing a sizable second-half deficit, Tyra hit three 3-pointers inthe third quarter. She finished with 11 points.

Ameonia House led Quitman with 14 points, and A’teyuna Doby had13.

“We are so honored to host South State,” said Coach Rutland, “andto have a game like we had tonight makes it even better. Our fansreally came out, despite the fact that we had such and early game.We’re so appreciative of the great support.”

On Friday, Lawrence County will take on Forrest County AHS, a 51-40winner over Richland. The winner of that game will earn a trip toSaturday’s final and, more importantly, reserve a spot in theMississippi Coliseum.

“Obviously, that’s where we all want to be,” Rutland said. “Peopletalk about the coliseum like it’s a tired, ugly old building, butit you play or coach high school basketball in Mississippi, it’sthe most beautiful building in the world. We’ll have to play agreat game to have a shot.”

Friday’s other semifinal game will pit South Jones against NewtonCounty. South Jones, whose only two losses on the season came toQuitman, defeated Division 7-4A champion Columbia, 55-48. NewtonCounty upset Poplarville in the final game of the night, 58-55.