scorch Ripley in semi-finals
The crowd in The Big House Wednesday afternoon was about evenly divided. Loyal fans made the trek from Marshall and Tippah counties to witness a replay of a game which had been decided by a pair of points about a week earlier in Ripley.
But this one was in the state Class 3A semi-finals, for a berth in the championship contest.
The Holly Springs Hawks came out strong, hitting seven first points. But the Ripley Tigers had a couple of shooters who blasted a trio of threes to make it 21-13. That score would hold up until the end of the first quarter.
Holly High began to burn some bridges in the second frame and their shots were falling.They applied pressure to the Tigers the entire length of the court. At one point it appeared that they would go into intermission with a hefty 14-point lead. However, Ripleys Quin Williamson rose up and stuck his fifth trey at the horn to cut it to 41-30.
Dennis Hampton, who had been instrumental in achieving the early advantage for the Hawks, opened the second half with his fifth trey. Holly High continued to mount a stifling attack and was still carrying a double-digit lead.
Again it looked as if the Hawks would end the third with a big lead, but history repeated itself. Williamson, again, shot one at least five feet from the east side of the center line which went cleanly through.
The third ended with the Hawks nine points ahead at 53-44.
The Hawks slowed the tempo, used reserves but stiffened the defense. The Tigers kept pounding at the Hawks perimeter. They were not having a lot of luck. Their plan was to get the ball to their big man, Derrick Bails, but it was not happening.
The tide was ebbing and the Tigers had to resort to fouling. They tried hard but could not erase the nine-point deficit. They went down 70-61.
The Hawks were simply on fire. They made 25 of 37 shots (68 percent), including 11 of 15 (73 percent) from three-point range.
Brandon Ayers led the scoring effort for the Hawks. The senior posted 23 with five treys among them. Clevin Hannah, superb in his role as playmaker, struck for 16. He also dished out nine assists.
Hampton hit five consecutive treys for 15. Antonio Isom shot for nine, and Jemorris Wilks hit for seven.
Williamson led the opposition. He, too, had 23. Seven of those were threes. Buck Johnson had 12, Bails 11, and Rashad Connor and Doc Johnson nine and six, respectively.
The win sent the Hawks into Saturdays game to defend their title.
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