When Domonique Allen took over as head coach of the Corinth High School girls basketball program prior to the 2019-20 season, she had a vision and a goal of growing the Lady Warriors into a winning program that would eventually compete for division titles and more.
Year one saw drastic improvement although the win column might not have necessarily shown it as CHS went 5-16 overall and 1-6 inside Division 1-4A. Improvement was shown in the mental toughness and preparedness of her squad as well as a great decrease in margin of defeat across the board.
Where the Lady Warriors were losing games by 30 points two years ago, they cut those margins in half in many cases. And they did it with a very young team who grew up as they played each contest.
Tuesday night the Lady Warriors notched their third straight win of the 2020-21 campaign with a come-from-behind 58-49 overtime win over county rival Alcorn Central to improve to 3-1. Their only blemish came on the road at perennial 3A contender Kossuth, the 2018 state champion, in the season opener.
The Corinth boys left no doubt from the beginning as they came out smoking in an eventual 78-49 win over the Golden Bears to move to 2-0 after its second double-digit win to open the season.
As for the Lady Bears, this was one that simply got away. Then again, the relentless, never-give-up play of the Lady Warriors had a lot to do with taking Central out of their rhythm.
“We came out flat and it took us a while to get anything going,” said Allen. “We were down by 12 after the first quarter as well as at halftime, so at halftime we talked about the ‘why’ we were playing. We started playing with more intensity and our defense began to create some pressure. Our girls never gave up. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Central senior point guard Ella Mask, who joined the AC 1,000-point club with a third quarter steal and layup, led an early Lady Bears onslaught as they built a 14-2 lead after one period and were comfortably on top 28-16 at intermission.
It was the second half when Corinth began to come to life as they won the third period 13-7. They eventually took a pair of five-point leads in the fourth before Sadie Perriman drilled a 3-pointer as time expired in regulation to tie the game at 45.
The extra period was all Lady Warriors as sophomore post player Zakiah Gwyn scored nine of her game-high 24, including a perfect 3-3 at the charity line.
“We shot 10 percent from the floor late in the game and you just can’t win with those kinds of numbers,” said Central head coach Alan Wood.
In the nightcap the Warriors took the Golden Bears, who entered the contest with a 7-1 ledger, out of their game from the start as they opened a 30-12 first quarter lead and coasted from that point as Central never got closer than 13.
Head coach Keith Greene’s team applied their usual in-your-face relentless defense and Central simply had trouble handling it as they turned the ball over much more than they have so far all season.
“We did some good things tonight,” said Greene, “including some good ball movement. Pretty much everyone got involved. We got a bit sloppy in the second quarter and again late in the game, but the effort was there. Our guys who just came from the football team are still getting in basketball shape. That will come in time.”
Kito Windom led three CHS players in double figures with 17, followed closely by Andre Adams with 15. Alex Moore, the Bears leading scorer averaging 25 a game coming in, was held to 10 as Keagan Hicks paced AC with 13.
Corinth is now 2-0 while AC is 7-2. The Warriors and Lady Warriors will open their division schedule Friday when they travel to North Pontotoc. Alcorn Central is scheduled to host Booneville Friday in their division opener.
In other games played Tuesday:
Zoe Essary and Katelyn Bumpas each scored a game-high 16 as the Lady Aggies won their Division 1-3A opener 76-28 over Booneville at KHS.
Mary Houston Ivy led the Lady Blue Devils with eight.
In the nightcap the BHS boys earned the split with an equally-impressive 99-34 victory over the Aggies. Josh Dukes and John Daniel Deaton were high scorers for BHS with 17 apiece.
The Tishomingo County Lady Braves, ranked No. 2 in northeast Mississippi, improved to 10-1 with a 64-47 win at Lafayette while the Commodores won the nightcap 50-49.
Tish County hosts New Albany Thursday in a Division 1-4A contest.
Biggersville earned a road sweep at Wheeler as the Lady Lions took the opener 48-34 while the Lions won their first game of the season, 51-49.
Asia Stafford led Biggersville with 15 while Cam Smith led the BHS boys with 15. Devin Leatherwood was also in double figures with 11. The Lady Lions are now 2-2. Biggersville hosts Jumpertown on Thursday.