By Austin Bishop
The Winston County Journal
The Lady Tigers pulled off a miraculous comeback on Monday night to defeat visiting French Camp 66-62 and earn the right to host the MHSAA Class 1A South State Tournament.
“It is huge,” said Noxapater head girls coach Pam Winstead when asked about the importance of her team hosting the eight-team event that begins on Thursday. “Nobody can remember when the last time Noxapater had a chance to host a South State tournament. It’s been several years since they won a district tournament.
“Everybody is real proud of them,” she said. “I hope people realize the hard work they had to put in to be able to do this.”
It almost didn’t happen for the Lady Tigers. French Camp held a 21-point lead over Noxapater in the third quarter, but Noxapater tightened up its defense and began a historic run. Hanna Hamilton and Brittany Triplett each delivered key three-point plays down the stretch to push the Lady Tigers over the top.
Hamilton hit for 32 points to lead Noxapater against FCA, while Triplett had 15, Treasure Lynch nine, and Kiera Phillips seven.
Noxapater claimed the district tournament championship last week by defeating Nanih Waiya 48-43 in the semifinals and West Lowndes 39-35 in the finals. Both of those gam
es were played at Noxapater.
Hamilton poured in 19 points and Triplett 11 for Noxapater against Nanih Waiya, while Lynch added six. Triplett led the way for the Lady Tigers against West Lowndes with 15 points, while Lynch had nine and Hamilton seven. Hamilton, Lynch and Triplett were all selected to the all-district team, while Winstead was named coach of the year.
The Lady Tigers now return to action on their home floor on Thursday when they will open the 1A Girls South State Tournament against Bogue Chitto at 4 p.m. Bogue Chitto defeated Dexter 74-58 on Monday to earn its spot in the event.
The 5:30 pm. game has McAdams facing Salem at 5:30 p.m., Sebastopol taking on Tuesday night’s play-in winner between Hinds AHS and Mount Olive at 7 p.m. and Stringer taking on Durant at 8:30 p.m.
The semifinals are set for 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, with Saturday’s championship game being scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.
The Lady Tigers will have to win two games this week in order to qualify for the MSHAA Class 1A State Tournament that begins March 7 at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.
The Noxapater boys were set to play host to Noxapater in a play-in game on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. A win there would push the Tigers, who finished second in the region tournament, into the MSHAA Class 1A South State Boys Tournament which would also begin on Thursday.
Noxapater took a 47-36 win over rival Nanih Waiya in the region semifinals before falling to West Lowndes 60-28 in the finals.
The Tigers outscored the Warriors 15-5 in the fourth quarter to seal the win over Nanih Waiya after leading just 32-31 after three quarters of play. Trevara Miller scored 16 points to lead Noxapater in the game, while Vonte Woods hit for 12 and Tylon Brantley eight.
West Lowndes led 18-6 after one quarter in the championship game and 28-16 at the half, but outscored the Tigers 32-12 in the second half to put the game away. Miller led Noxapater with 10 point in the game, while Robertson tossed in seven.