The long 46-year drought is over.
With a stingy defense and timely baskets Louisville was able to hold off Ripley 35-31 to claim the Girls Class 4A State Championship at the Mississippi Coliseum on Thursday night.
It is the Lady Wildcats (27-4) second state title in school history and first since 1973.
“We just had to keep on shooting and eventually the shots were going to fall,” said Louisville coach Kenyon Ross. “This atmosphere was the first time the girls have been in this situation, so they were nervous. If they saw me panic, they would panic, I figured it out sooner or later we’d be alright.”
With the game tied at 14 at halftime Louisville would open the second half on a 6-0 run to take a 20-14 lead, but Ripley would close the third quarter on an 8-0 run to go up 25-24.
The Lady Wildcats would open the fourth quarter on an 8-2 run to go up 32-27 and held on from that point on.
“Just had to control their shooters and contain their two main offensive scorers we would be alright,” Ross said. “Our two post players altered some shots and that was huge for us.”
Ajira Thompkins had 12 points to lead Louisville and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Iitasha Paty added nine points for Louisville, while Jalen Ingram chipped in six points for the Lady Wildcats.
“It just a blessing to win it because not a lot of people get the chance to win,” Ross said. “These ladies been through so much to get and it’s a blessing to come out on top.”
The Louisville defense held Ripley to shoot just 23 percent from the floor (10-for-42) and held the Lady Tigers scoreless the final five minutes of the game.
“Second half we just had to play better defense because we were breaking down,” said Louisville’s Areyanna Hunter. “Started to do what we needed to do on defense and offensive started clicking and we were able to close them out. This state title feels so good we’ve worked so hard to get here and to win it is great.”
Siarra Jackson had 11 points and 13 rebounds to lead Ripley (27-6).