North half starts tonight with the ladies, and the plotlines are numerous. Here are a few.
• Class 5A: If Tupelo gets past Olive Branch tonight, it then has a 75 percent chance of reaching the state tournament, which would be coach Stephanie Murphy‘s fourth such trip in as many years. Not bad for a team that’s 15-14 and has no real go-to player (though sophomore Amber Jackson is getting there). By the way, Tupelo will host the second round if it wins.
• Class 4A: Oxford got the better side of the bracket, which means the Lady Chargers won’t have to meet unbeaten and defending Grand Slam champ Gentry (for a third time) or Daily Journal No. 1 Pontotoc before the finals. So a trip to Jackson is most likely.
• Class 3A: Among area teams, South Pontotoc has separated itself as the best of its class. The Lady Cougars’ experience – all five starters from last year returned – is starting to show.
• Class 2A: Belmont beat H.W. Byers in the regular season, then Byers won the rematch in the Region 1-2A tournament finals. I fully expect a rematch in the North finals, which means both teams will go to Jackson.
• Class 1A: I have yet to see a NeMiss team in this class that impresses me. I’ve watched Biggersville, Calhoun City, Houlka, Myrtle, Okolona and Pine Grove, and only Myrtle gave me any confidence. But that was over a month ago, and the Lady Hawks have stumbled badly since then. Falkner was hot before losing to Pine Grove in the 1-1A finals, and Tremont has kind of snuck under the radar. Defending 2A state champ Coldwater will, of course, capture the No. 1 seed for Jackson.