By Austin Bishop
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Big crowds enjoyed some top-flight girls basketball at Choctaw County High School on Saturday as 20 teams — including some of the top-ranked teams in the state — took part in the Mid-Mississippi Challenge.
One of the featured games saw Tupelo — ranked No. 3 in the Jackson Clarion-Ledger’s Super 10 — take an 88-84 win over Scott Central and Victoria Vivians. While Tupelo took the win, Vivians — the all-team leading scorer in Mississippi — pumped in 60 points for the Lady Rebels despite being double and triple teamed most of the night.
Another key match-up saw Ninth-ranked Brandon take a 58-52 win over No. 7 New Hope, while Canton ranked No. 3 in Class 5A was upset by New Site — ranked No. 5 in 2A — by the score of 45-40.
Other games saw Meridian High School, ranked No. 8 in the Super 10, beat Starkville Academy 70-45, Choctaw Central defeat Amite County 56-38, West Union get past Stringer 61-54, Starkville High School beat East Webster 58-27, Nettleton down Union 69-37, J.Z. George defeat Nanih Waiya 38-32 and French Camp beat host Choctaw County 51-35.
“We have really had a good turnout and we are very pleased,” said Choctaw County head coach and event coordinator Gary Beals mid-way through Saturday’s event. “Some of the best teams in the state are here playing basketball today at the same place.”
The first game of the day was an interesting one at times, despite the fact FCA eventually won by 16 points.
The Lady Panthers did not score their first point until eight seconds were left in the first quarter but managed to take a 17-9 lead at the half. FCA scored the first two buckets of the third quarter to complete a 17-point run and take a 23-9 advantage before the Lady Indians scored nine straight and cut it to 21-18 on a three-point basket by Dijadra Pratt with 4:46 left in the third quarter.
FCA head coach Martha Ward quickly called time out in an effort stop Choctaw County’s run.
French Camp’s Anna Grace MacKenzie responded by knocking down a three-pointer right after the time out and then on the next trip down the floor made a nice pass inside for a basket by Suna Kuac to put the winners up 26-18.
“During the time out we said we needed to score right away to try and stop the run and squelch any thought of them being able to catch us,” Ward said.
The Lady Panthers went on to take a 35-22 lead at the end of three quarters before content to stretch out the advantage into fourth quarter.
“When (Brysa) Maxwell goes out that leaves us without any height and they have those two big girls in there that are hard for us to defend,” Beals said. “I thought we played pretty well overall.”
Kierra Fair scored 11 to lead Choctaw County in the game, while Haley Lampard and Pratt hit for eight each.
MacKenzie led FCA with 18 points, while Myesha Scott scored 12, Suna Kuac 11 and Carlin West seven.