Kossuth head coach Angie Malone didn’t want to have that same feeling again.
The Lady Aggies would get a steal and Zoe Essary hit a lay-up with 16 seconds left and hit two free throws with four seconds left to lift Kossuth past Belmont 48-44 to claim the MHSAA Girls Class 3A State Championship at the Mississippi Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
It is the Lady Aggies (25-7) first state title in school history. Kossuth was previously 0-3 in state championship games.
“I knew this team had it. Every time I challenged them, they stepped up and they did at the end,” said Kossuth head coach Angie Malone, who was senior at Kossuth the last time the Lady Aggies reached the state title game in 1993 which ended in a loss to Bay Springs. “I just broke down when that buzzer when off. I told the girls you’re not going to like the feeling if they didn’t get it done.”
With Kossuth down 41-29 Essary would score the Lady Aggies next 12 points to cut the lead Belmont lead to 44-39.
Kossuth would tie the game at 44 on a three-pointer by Morgan Hodum with 22 seconds left and took lead off a steal and lay-up by Essary with 16 seconds left to give the Lady Aggies the lead.
“It was really hard in that final minute, but we wanted it more,” Essary said. “Just hustling on our press and we knew we needed to score, and I think our pressure rattled them.”
Essary had a game-high 20 points to lead Kossuth, while Hodum added 16 points for the Lady Aggies.
“I knew when the ball left Hodum’s hand it was going in,” Malone said. “I’m old school basketball. Defense wins championships and offense sales tickets, but in the end, you got to play defense.”
Macie Walker had 13 points to lead Belmont, while Abby Kuykendall added 11 points for Lady Cardinals (25-9).