Ethel began the MHSAA Class 1A State playoffs with a 44-28 victory over Mt. Olive last Tuesday that was keyed by the Lady Tigers' relentless pressure defense and liberal use of the bench.
“That has been our key all year,” Parish said. “When we lost our starting point guard the first game of the year, I decided that we would take 10 of the young ones and play pressure defense all night.”
The season came to an end for Ethel on Friday in a 49-22 road loss to Sacred Heart in the second round of the girls MHSAA 1A state playoffs. The Lady Tigers were held scoreless in the second quarter and trailed 30-9 at the half. No further details were made available.
Dejah Merritt was expected to be the star of the team this year as the leading returning scorer at 10 points a game. But she went down with a torn ACL the first game.
The pressure resulted in four Mt. Olive turnovers before the Lady Pirates took their first shot.
Ethel jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a basket by Destiny Felton and five straight points by Zakiya Dotson. Mt Olive was held scoreless for more than four minutes until Alyssa Lindsey drove for a layup.
It was 15-6 after one quarter, 26-15 at the half and 41-21 through three quarters.
Ethel broke the game open by scoring nine straight points in the third quarter for a 39-19 lead. The biggest lead was 44-21 in the fourth quarter on a three-point basket by Chloe Cloringer. The Lady Tigers went scoreless the final five minutes as the game became sloppy.
“At times we look really good and at times we revert back. I think it's the inexperience of youth,” Parish said.
Dotson had a game-high 19 points. Takia Miller contributed 10. Lindsey led Mt. Olive with nine points.
Ethel qualified for the playoffs by finishing second in the Region 5-1A tournament with an upset of McAdams in the semifinals and a loss to unbeaten West Lowndes in the championship game.
Sacred Heart won the 8-1A tournament with a 57-56 victory over regular season winner Lumberton.