The dynasty continues.
Behind a stellar defense and the play of Loren Elliott, Pine Grove got past Simmons 44-26 to win its third consecutive Girls Class 1A State Championship on Thursday afternoon at the Mississippi Coliseum.
It is the Lady Panthers (33-3) seventh state championship overall.
“I thought we executed our game plan on the defensive end of the floor very well in the first half,” said Pine Grove coach Katie Bates. “Second half we caught chasing people, but the girls did whatever they had to do even when they mess up, they find a way.”
Pine Grove never trailed the whole game.
The Lady Panthers built a 14-8 lead after the first quarter and held Simmons without a field goal in the second quarter to build a 22-11 lead at halftime.
In the first half Pine Grove made nine field goals, eight of those were lay ups.
“We knew what kind of defense they ran if we could just get to the post, we would be able to make shots and not be timid,” Bates said. “We did a good job of attacking them with the pass and getting people in the right spot and did a good job of that.”
In the second half Pine Grove would only make two field goals, both in the third quarter, and the rest of the points came from the free throw line where the Lady Panthers went 17-for-24.
“Something we take pride on is defense and free throws,” Bates said. “If we can hold people to the high 20’s or low 30’s we give ourselves a very good chance to win. Winning three in a row has never been done before at Pine Grove and we are just blessed.”
Loren Elliott had 17 points to lead Pine Grove and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Pine Grove only shot 11-of-33 from the field (33 percent). The Lady Panthers held Simmons to 22 percent shooting (9-of-40).
“I just had to go out there and give everything I had,” Elliott said. “If we just did good on defense and block out, we be alright when our shots weren’t fallen. Winning three in a row is just a blessing. God is good and we’ve been fortunate.”
Karlie Rogers added eight points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Panthers.
Jaleila Gadison had a game-high 20 points to lead Simmons (26-8).