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Lawrence Co Lady Cougars eliminate Columbia

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County's Zipporah Baylis (15) looks for some help while Columbia's defender K'Ja Weavy (4) apllies pressure Tuesday night.

DAILY LEADER / MARTY ALBRIGHT / Lawrence County’s Zipporah Baylis (15) looks for some help while Columbia’s defender K’Ja Weavy (4) apllies pressure Tuesday night in Monticello.

MONTICELLO-The Division 7-4A basketball tournament opened Tuesday at Lawrence County High School, with four elimination games on the slate. The host Lawrence County Lady Cougars punched their ticket to the state playoffs for the seventh straight season with a 49-43 win over Columbia.

Vicki Rutland’s girls improved to 14-14 with the win, beating Columbia for the third time this season. The win pushes the Lady Cougars into a Thursday semi-final game against top-seeded South Pike.

“This was a great night for our team,” said Rutland, who is in her tenth season at LCHS. “We’re honored to be hosting the division tournament, and we’re thrilled to advance to the semi-finals-and to the playoffs-for another year. Our girls played hard.”

Lawrence County led for most of the game, forging a 12-point lead (28-16) by halftime. Columbia started the second half with a 7-0 run to cut the lead down to 5-points, but the Lady Cougars quickly stretched it back out to double digits. The Lady Cougars led by 8-to-12 points for most of the second half.

“I thought our defensive energy was tremendous,” said Rutland. “We’ve got our offensive challenges, but playing defense the way our girls did tonight gives you a chance any night. I’m very proud of the effort.”

Jada McDuffey led Lawrence County with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals. Camryn Davis added 12 points and a team-high 9 rebounds. DeNeisha Dickson had 8 points, 3 steals, and 4 assists. Haven Johnson contributed 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Kija Weary led Columbia with 13 points, and Jaleel Hartfield added 12. The loss ended the season for the Lady Wildcats, coached by Yamah Jones.

In other Tuesday games, the North Pike boys and girls advanced, and the sixth-seeded Columbia boys blew out third-seeded Purvis in a bit of an upset.

The North Pike girls won, 58-44, over a determined effort from underdog Purvis. Rickera Martin led North Pike with 21 points, and Latorya Humphries added 19. For Purvis, senior point guard Samantha Sattler concluded her outstanding career with 22 points. Freshman Kennedy Hudson added 16.

Columbia’s boys, the lowest-seeded team, dominated Purvis from the outset, and won 75-55. The Wildcats got 17 points from Fredrick Peters, and 15 from Charlie James. Purvis standout David Davis, one of Mississippi’s top scorers, closed out his high school career with a 26-point effort.

The other boys’ game was a dandy Pike County battle in which North Pike eliminated South Pike 66-59. The Jaguars closed the game on a 9-0 run. Javian Jackson led North Pike with 22 points. TaVorius Williams led the Eagles with 20.

The remaining teams will take Wednesday off, before resuming play in the all-important semifinal round on Thursday. Winners of the semifinal games assure themselves of a home game in the opening round of 4A playoffs, while the semifinal losers will have to go on the road, against a higher seed, in the opening round.

Action begins at 4 p.m. Thursday, with North Pike taking on McComb in girls’ play and in boys action at 5:30.

In the nightcap, the Lawrence County Lady Cougars battle the South Pike Lady Eagles at 7 p.m. and the Cougars tangles with Columbia at 8:30 p.m.