North Pike girls move to 8-1 with win over Loyd Star

Published 11:05 am Monday, December 4, 2023

The first quarter was back and forth and low scoring, but the 5A North Pike Jaguars eventually took control of the game’s pace and ran out to a 46-25 win over the 2A Loyd Star Hornets on Friday at Loyd Star. The win moves North Pike to 8-1 on the season.

Loyd Star is 3-3 and will play Enterprise on Tuesday at home. The Hornets beat EAC 37-27 when the teams played on Nov. 14.

The Hornets were without senior point guard Riley Thornton on Friday, as she’s been out recently with an illness.

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Thornton is joined in the senior class for second year Loyd Star head coach Russell Cruise by forward Natalie Womack, forward Lydia Bass, guard Madisyn Altman and forward Cece Furnace. 

Womack and Bass started inside on Friday while freshman Maddie Kate Britt, junior Avery Sellers and junior Josie Breakfield started on the perimeter.

Britt led the way with seven points, Womack scored five points, Sellers added five points, sophomore Sydni Cruise scored three points, sophomore Micah Claire Lowe scored two points, freshman Samantha Reed scored two points and Altman rounded out the scoring for Loyd Star with one point.

Sellers hit a corner 3-pointer that pulled Loyd Star to within 14-12 with just over five minutes remaining in the first half.

At that point, the Hornets had done a nice job of dictating the flow of the game. Off made baskets, they would jump into a full-court, zone press and make North Pike take time to work the ball down.

On misses, Loyd Star was able to hustle back and play a zone that sagged into the lane and had the Jaguars shooting from deep.

Soon after Seller’s 3-pointer, North Pike jumped three straight passes while Loyd Star was trying to run their half-court offense. All three led to layups and the game got away from the home team as the visitors from Pike County led 29-13 at halftime.

“Not having our point guard in Riley hurt us for sure,” said Cruise. “We’ve had our share of bumps and bruises in the early going. Avery Sellers is coming off a knee injury and Maddie Kate Britt had to deal with a concussion. The girls are working hard every day though and if we’re going to struggle to piece things together, you would rather have it happen now in these non-region games.”

The growth of the junior high program is something that has Cruise and Loyd Star fans excited about the future. 

Freshmen Layla Burt, Lillie Fortenberry, Kaylin Hester and Reed are part of a class that did not lose a junior high game last season. This years’ junior high team is also unbeaten. 

Britt, also a freshman, didn’t play junior high ball last season, she made her varsity debut as an eighth grader and averaged 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

The full-court pressure that Cruise wants his varsity to be strong with one day is currently being taught in those lower grades and then fazed in at the high school level as the players move up.

“You’ve got to build up your style of play through the junior high kids first,” said Cruise.

Loyd Star went 8-18 overall and 4-4 in Region 7-2A play last season. They swept Amite County and East Marion in the regular season and lost both games against Loyd Star and Bogue Chitto in division play. 

In the region tournament, the Hornets lost 50-49 to Amite County in the consolation game and then were put out of the MHSAA 2A playoffs 77-44 by the eventual state champions from Lake High.

North Pike, coached by former Troy University standout Laura Lee Holman, was led by senior guard Tanivea Miller with 22 points.

In other area girls’ high school basketball played on Friday night, Wesson smacked Salem 52-19, Bogue Chitto remained unbeaten with a 41-34 win over St. Andrew’s, Brookhaven Academy beat Lamar School 47-34, Brookhaven High beat Franklin County 49-22 in Meadville and South Pike topped Lawrence County 41-38. On Saturday, Bogue Chitto cruised past Enterprise 54-22.